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What is WHMIS?

What Does WHMIS Stand For?

WHMIS, which stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, is Canada’s national hazard communication standard. It was created in 1988 to communicate important health and safety information about the hazardous products employers and workers may be exposed to while at work. It remained relatively unchanged until 2015, when WHMIS was updated to align with the 5th edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).


WHMIS is enforced by the Labour Branch of Human Resources Development Canada for federal workplaces and by the provincial or territorial agencies responsible for occupational health and safety for most other workplaces. Health Canada is the government body responsible for making the required changes to the overall federal WHMIS-related laws.

WHMIS training is required to be provided by employers, and it can save an organization from penalties, fines and litigation by preventing injury and death.








A hazardous product is the name given to a product, material or substance that is capable of posing significant risk to health, safety and property. The products meet one or more of the classification criteria of the Hazardous Protection Act and regulations. These products are regulated by WHMIS legislation and fall into one or more hazard classes – each uniquely identified by a pictogram for quick recognition.

In December 2022, Canada amended its Hazardous Product Regulations (HPR) to align with the 7th revised edition and certain provisions of the 8th edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The amendments introduce some key changes to WHMIS that workers, employers, and suppliers need to know.

WHMIS 2015 will now be referred to as just “WHMIS”, and versions of the Hazardous Products Regulations will be distinguished with the terms “former” and “amended”.

For most workplaces, the most notable impacts of the transition from WHMIS 2015 to the amended WHMIS will be the adoption of a new physical hazard class, Chemicals Under Pressure, the adoption of a non-flammable aerosols hazard category, and new subcategories for flammable gases. A full breakdown of the changes are available from Health Canada.

There are also several revisions to the information elements required on safety data sheets and labels, including modifications to the required elements concerning the physical and chemical properties in section 9 of the safety data sheet. New elements were introduced, including boiling point, flammability, kinematic viscosity, density and relative density, relative vapour density and particle characteristics. Some elements were removed, including odour threshold, evaporation rate, vapour density and viscosity. A safety data sheet can still provide these information elements as additional information, as long as it is not false or misleading.

Another amendment specifies that all hazardous ingredients which are present in a mixture at concentrations above the relevant cut-off levels must be disclosed, regardless of whether the hazardous ingredient contributes to the classification of the mixture as a hazardous product or not.

Benefits = Better Protection for Workers

Knowledge is power when it comes to hazardous products. These amendments are designed to provide more comprehensive and detailed health and safety information on product labels and safety data sheets, which will provide better protection for workers. They also help Canada meet its international commitment under the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Forward Plan. Aligning with certain requirements of the revised editions of the GHS will also have significant trade benefits for suppliers, due to the harmonized labelling and safety data sheet requirements for workplace hazardous products.

Supplier Safety Data Sheet and Label Transition Period:

Suppliers have until December 14, 2025 to bring their safety data sheets and labels into compliance with the amended regulations. During this three-year transition period, regulated parties can choose to comply with either the former HPR or the amended HPR, but not both. The hazard classification, safety data sheet and label of a hazardous product must be fully compliant with the version of the regulation chosen. This means that in order for a product to be compliant with the amended WHMIS, both the safety data sheet and label must meet the requirements of the amended WHMIS.

Employers in every industry that uses, stores or handles hazardous products will need to update their training programs to help workers learn and understand the new WHMIS changes. However, the industries most affected are likely to be mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, petroleum and coal product manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, plastics and rubber products manufacturing, non-metallic mineral product manufacturing, primary metal manufacturing, and animal feed manufacturing.


What are the 3 Main Parts of WHMIS

  1. Labels
  2. Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
  3. Worker Education


What Training Includes:

  • procedures for storage, handling, use, disposal, emergency spills, and what to do in certain situations with hazardous materials
  • how WHMIS works regarding hazardous products being used, stored, or handled in a workplace
  • what is required of the employer, employee and supplier
  • what are SDSs or safety data sheets and WHMIS labels
  • WHMIS quiz


Once the training is complete a WHMIS Certificate is issued.

Up to Date Training Requirements:

  • New employees are required to be trained
  • Each year the training should be refreshed for all employees
  • If there are changes to the workplace and/or new hazardous products introduced the training should be refreshed
  • If there are changes/updates regarding the hazardous products results or any new hazards associated with them, safety training should be refreshed


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