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What Are The Three Parts of WHMIS?

The main components of WHMIS are hazard identification and product classification, labelling, safety data sheets, and worker education and training.

Table of Contents:

  1.  Understanding Hazardous Materials    (Supplier Labels & Workplace Labels)
  2. Safety Data Sheets
  3. Required WHMIS Education and Training for Employees


1. Understanding Hazardous Materials:

Hazardous products are harmful to ones health if exposure is not limited. They can be either health hazards (can affect health immediately or over a long period of time or a physical hazard that can cause a fire or an explosion or corrosion.   As such we must control hazards in the workplace and WHMIS training explains how this is done.

Suppliers of these products use a supplier label and provide Safety Data Sheets to indicate the severity of the hazard.

Supplier Label:  Identifies product/location, its hazards how it should be handled

Identifier on Supplier Label Information
1. Product Identifier The product name is exactly as it appears on the container and on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
2. Hazard Pictogram Provides information about the primary hazard posed by a product. Indicates whether the product is dangerous to touch or breathe, is easily combustible, unstable or reacts negatively (when mixed) with other materials.

Look for a pictogram that is framed by a red square set on a point. The exception is the biohazard pictogram which is in a round black border.

3. Signal Word Danger or Warning are used to emphasize hazards and indicate the severity of the hazard.
4. Hazard Statements Brief standardized statements of all hazards based on the hazard classification of the product. E.g., Fatal if inhaled.
5. Precautionary Statements Brief descriptions of essential precautions, specific protective equipment, and emergency measures. First-aid is included in the Precautionary Statements and includes immediate steps to be taken by trained first-aiders at the scene of an incident.
6. Supplier Identifier The company which made or packaged the product and is responsible for the label and SDS information. Ask your supervisor to contact the supplier for additional information on the product.


Workplace Labels

Workplace labels are a simplified version of a supplier label and may be used when hazardous materials are made in the workplace, or when hazardous materials are poured from the original container into another container. The employer is responsible for affixing workplace labels to these containers. This label does not require hazard pictograms or signal word.

Workplace labels must be present on hazardous products in the following situations: Workplace labels must contain:
for products produced onsite product identifier (usually product name)
when the product is transferred from one container to another information for the safe handling of the product
when a worker’s first language is not English or French statement that the SDS is available
to replace labels that have been lost or damaged during transport


2.  Safety Data Sheets:

Safety Data Sheets contain comprehensive information about hazardous materials, including their content/ingredients, directions for proper use, correct cleanup and first-aid procedures. A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) must be available to employees (“workers”) for every hazardous product that is used.

Data Sheets (SDSs)

A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a much more detailed listing of key information about a hazardous product. They contain more data than can fit on a label. The SDS is required to be updated within 90 days when the supplier becomes aware of any “significant new data.” SDSs do not need to be updated every three years. It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure SDSs are accurate and compliant at the time of every sale or importation of the hazardous product. Before you start using a product know the hazards, how to safely handle and store the product, and what to do in an emergency. Suppliers must provide a current SDS at the time of sale. Your supervisor is to inform you of the location of SDSs in your department. SDSs should be located in an area that is readily accessible at all times, on all shifts, and for all workers.

Safety Data Sheet Sections

There are sixteen (16) sections in a Safety Data Sheet and must be in the same set order.

Section 1 – Identification Provides the name of the product, supplier information and recommended use and restrictions on use.
Section 2 – Hazard Identification Lists the hazard classification (class and category) of the substance or mixture or a description of the identified hazard.
Section 3 – Composition/Information on Ingredients Lists the chemical name, common name and synonyms and concentration of ingredients or mixtures.
Section 4 – First-aid Measures Explains the first-aid measures by route of exposure: inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, and ingestion. As well as most the important symptoms/effects.
Section 5 – Fire-fighting Measures Lists the specific hazards arising from the hazardous product and how to safely extinguish. Lists specific precautions for fire fighters.
Section 6 – Accidental Release Measures Describes personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures and methods/materials for containment and clean up.
Section 7 – Handling and Storage Lists the precautions for safe handling, conditions for storage, including any incompatibilities.
Section 8 – Exposure Controls/Personal Protection Deals with appropriate engineering controls and individual protection measures (PPE).
Section 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties Describes the product’s physical and chemical properties such as physical state, colour, odour, melting point and freezing point, boiling point or initial boiling point and boiling range, flammability, explosive limit, vapour density, and particle characteristic.
Section 10 – Stability and Reactivity Describes the product’s reactivity, possibility of hazardous reactions, conditions to avoid, and incompatible materials.
Section 11 – Toxicological Information Provides complete description of the various toxic health effects by route of entry, including effects of acute (short term) or chronic (long term) exposure, carcinogenicity, reproductive efforts, respiratory sensitization and the data used to identify those effects.
Section 12 – Ecological Information Lists other adverse effects: aquatic and terrestrial toxicity (where available).
Section 13 – Disposal Considerations Deals with information on the safe handling for disposal and methods of disposal, including waste packaging.
Section 14 – Transport Information Provides UN number, proper UN shipping name, transport hazard class, packing group, environmental hazards, and special precautions in connection with transport or conveyance.
Section 15 – Regulatory Information Lists the safety, health and environmental regulations specific to the product.
Section 16 – Other Information Provides the date of the latest revision of the SDS.


A Safety Data Sheet can look intimidating, and it does contain a lot of complex scientific information.  The important sections to read are Sections 2, 4, 8 and 11. These sections will provide you with important information on:

  • The ways this material could affect an employee’s health.
  • What must be done to use this product safely (i.e., what protective clothing to wear).
  • What first-aid is necessary should something go wrong.


3.  Required WHMIS Training and Education for Employees

Training for WHMIS is required to ensure that anyone working with hazardous materials knows the potential dangers and the correct handling methods for these products. Under WHMIS regulation, employees have a right to know about the hazardous materials in their workplace. Employers are responsible to train those who work in proximity to hazardous materials.

    WHMIS Training Your Way!



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