What is WHMIS?
WHMIS stands for "Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System". It is used across Canada. WHMIS is based on the internal standard GHS, the "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals."
WHMIS is designed to inform workers about hazardous materials they may be exposed to and ensure they know how to work safely with them. WHMIS was updated in 2015 with new regulations that take full effect in 2018. You can learn more about the changes on our About WHMIS 2015 page.
WHMIS revolves around three main concepts:
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)*
At a minimum, the employer must ensure that all WHMIS controlled products received, stored or used by their company are properly identified and supplied with appropriate labels and SDS.
All employees must receive training in WHMIS prior to using any controlled product to ensure that they:
recognise and understand the WHMIS label attached to the controlled products.
know where to access the SDS, know to refer to the SDS prior to using the controlled product and understand the information presented on the SDS; and
can identify, handle, store and work safely with the controlled products to which they may be exposed.
It is recommended that, as with all safety training, WHMIS training be documented and a copy retained on file.
* Prior to 2015 Safety Data Sheets were referred to as Material Safety Data Sheets.