The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Canada’s national hazard communication standard, is changing to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) – an internationally recognized standard for hazard classification and communication.
On February 11, 2015, the Government of Canada published the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).
The new WHMIS, called “WHMIS 2015”, is based on the new requirements contained the HPR and HPA, as amended in 2014.
The original WHMIS, which remained virtually unchanged since 1988, is not being replaced but rather updated to align as closely as possible with the United States Hazard Communication Standard (2012).
The Government of Canada expects WHMIS 2015 to help strengthen worker health and safety, facilitate trade with the United States, and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian suppliers of workplace chemicals.
While WHMIS 2015 includes new harmonized criteria for hazard classification and requirements for labels and safety data sheets, the roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers have not changed. Health Canada and the federal, provincial and territorial occupational health and safety agencies will also retain the same roles and responsibilities established with WHMIS 1988.
A multi-phase transition period provides time to adapt to the regulatory changes. At the outset, manufacturers, importers and distributors of hazardous chemicals can comply with either the original WHMIS 1988 or the newly revised WHMIS 2015, incorporating the GHS.
Health Canada has worked in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) to develop and release helpful resources about WHMIS 2015. By visiting the CCOHS website, you may register and freely view fact sheets and e-courses entitled “WHMIS after GHS: An Introduction”, “WHMIS after GHS: How Suppliers Can Prepare”, and “WHMIS (After GHS) for Workers”.
Information may also be found on Health Canada’s website at WHMIS.gc.ca or at a new, nationally coordinated information portal WHMIS.org.
In addition, Health Canada has produced some awareness materials, which you may wish to use to raise awareness within your organizations. To obtain these materials, please contact us at either 1-855-407-2665 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.