WHMIS and GHS: What you need to know

The Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) was introduced in 1988. The main components of WHMIS are hazard identification and classification, labeling, material safety data sheets, and worker training and education.

WHMIS is not going away, and the essential elements of WHMIS such as labels, material safety data sheets (MSDSs/SDSs) and training will remain.

However, WHMIS will soon be changing to implement new rules for classification and labeling, and an internationally standardized Safety Data Sheet, as developed by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Health Canada is the government body responsible for making the required changes to the federal WHMIS-related laws. Health Canada is working to synchronize implementation of the GHS for workplace chemicals in Canada.

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is a worldwide system developed with the goal of standardizing the classification, labeling, and safety data sheet information for hazardous products. Changes have been made to WHMIS to align with GHS, and the WHMIS 2015 course that Ontario-Safety.ca has developed is designed to inform participants of what has changed, what remains the same, and the differences to GHS adopted in Canada for WHMIS 2015.

When is This Happening?

What Do Workers Need to Know?

After GHS implementation, SDSs and labels for products originating within and outside of Canada will share common elements. This should simplify education and training after the transition period is over. However employees will need training on both systems until the transition is complete.

At this time, the current WHMIS requirements, as described in the Controlled Products Regulations, for labels on “controlled” or hazardous products in the workplace must continue to be followed. During the transition period it should be expected to have both GHS and WHMIS within the workplace.

For information regarding the Ontario-Safety.ca WHMIS 2015 Transitional Course please click this link.