1.     What is WHMIS 2015?

Canada has aligned the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS), known as WHMIS 1988, with the Globally Harmonized system of Classification and labeling of Chemicals (GHS) to help harmonize hazard communication systems worldwide. The updates to Canadian legislation to implement GHS is referred to as WHMIS 2015.

2.    What are the benefits of WHMIS 2015?

The benefits of WHMIS 2015 include:

  • A hazard classification criteria that is more comprehensive and improves the ability to disclose the severity of hazards.
  • New hazard classes.
  • Physical hazard criteria that is consistent with the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulations.
  • The use of standardized language for hazard and precautionary statements.
  • A standardized Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format and more comprehensive requirements.

3.    How has the classification criteria changed?

WHMIS 2015 classifies hazardous substances into two groups: physical hazards and health hazards. Each group is further classified into classes, which are subdivided into categories. WHMIS has many classes for specific hazards identified in the WHMIS 1988 system of classes and divisions, as well as some additional hazards.

4.    What’s new with WHMIS 2015 supplier labels?

WHMIS 2015 supplier labels have standardized label elements. Each hazard class and category has a prescribed signal word, hazard statement, pictograms, and precautionary statements. Supplier labels are still required in both English and French.

5.    What are the new WHMIS 2015 Safety Data Sheets (SDS) like?

The WHMIS 2015 Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) have 16 sections, with specific information required in each section. An SDS identifies the hazardous product and its supplier, discloses the hazards associated with the product, prescribes the precautions workers should take to work safely with the product, and lists what a worker should do in an emergency related to the product.

6.    What is the status of WHMIS 2015?

The amended Hazardous Products Act and new regulations are now in force and suppliers may use either WHMIS 2015 labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) or WHMIS 1988 labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). To give suppliers, employers, and workers time to adjust, the transition to WHMIS 2015 will take place over a multi-year period, where both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 may be used in the workplace. You should check with your local jurisdiction for legal requirements and dates. Your employer must educate and train you about the new system, because the new labels and SDSs will be appearing in your workplace soon.