Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is based on the Right to Know and is a Canada-wide system to provide employers and workers with information about the hazardous materials they work with on the job so as to protect their health and safety. WHMIS is the outcome of over 18 years of consultation and negotiations among federal and provincial government, industry and organized labour. Its rules apply in every province and territory, as well as the workplace covered by federal law.
WHMIS has aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS is a worldwide system. Its goal is to have a common set of rules for classifying hazardous products, common rules for labels, and a standard format for SDSs that is adopted around the world.
In February 2015, Canada amended the Hazardous Products Act and published the Hazardous Products Regulations in order to incorporate the GHS into WHMIS. The new WHMIS is identified as WHMIS 2015.
To allow time for suppliers, employers and workers to adjust, implementation will take place over a multi-year transition period, where both the original WHMIS (WHMIS 1988) and WHMIS 2015 may be used in the workplace. Suppliers can currently use either WHMIS 2015 labels and SDSs for hazardous products, or they may use WHMIS 1988 labels and MSDSs.
Employers are required to educate and train workers about WHMIS 2015, and the new labels and SDSs as they will appear soon in their workplaces.
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