WHMIS: What You Need to Know For A Safe Office


You may have heard of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). In brief, the WHMIS is a comprehensive national system for the safe management of dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can include cleaners, paints, flammable aerosols, and gas cylinders. Different substances have their own unique hazards, and it’s vital employees have the expertise to identify and deal with those hazards. When it comes to using, handling, or transporting hazardous chemicals, the system provides health and safety information to help protect workers from harm and minimize the risk of danger.

It’s important that workplaces develop their own WHMIS programs to help safeguard workplaces and ensure employees are adequately educated concerning hazardous chemicals. Proper education and training are key to working with hazardous products. Implement WHMIS training course to help your employees understand the hazards and equip them with the knowledge to work safely with the products. Some of the topics training should cover include:

  • Information on workplace and supplier labels, and what that information means

  • Information to be included on Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and what they mean

  • Procedures for safe use, handling, and disposal of hazardous products

  • Procedures required when hazardous chemicals are in pipes, vessels, tank cars, etc.

  • Procedures in case the substance is present in the air, and workers may be exposed

  • Procedures to follow in case of emergencies involving the product

For construction and building renovations in Toronto, take note that training must include general and site-specific training to adequately equip employees. General training covers regulations, labels, symbols, and controlled products. Meanwhile, site-specific training includes education on how to work safely with those controlled products used in your particular workplace. This section of training also includes where and how to use personal protective gear and safety data sheets, and training for workplace-specific work procedures.

Who Develops Training and Education?

Photo Credit: Christina Morillo | Pexels

The onus is on the employer to develop a working WHMIS program. You can consult the health and safety committee or representative to identify potential hazards and develop procedures to help address the risks. Some of the employer’s responsibilities include:

  • Knowing what hazardous materials are present, and how they are used, stored, and transported in the workplace

  • Maintaining accurate records about the identity and amount of hazardous products

  • Identifying the hazards associated with storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous materials

  • Providing workers with easily accessible information, including safety data sheets

  • Developing procedures for safe use and storage of hazardous materials

  • Updating safety data sheets and labels when suppliers provide new data; updating workers’ education and training to include the new data

  • Monitoring and updating implementation of the safety program

How Often Is WHMIS Training Necessary?

IT Companies in Toronto should ideally review and assess their safety program at least once a year. It’s prudent to reassess your program in case of changes in work conditions or the availability of hazard information. These reviews are vital to ensuring your workers still retain sufficient training and knowledge to work with hazardous materials safely and effectively. As a rule of thumb, there are a few questions that employees should be able to answer satisfactorily to gauge their preparedness, namely:

  1. Where can I get hazard information?

  2. What are the hazards of a controlled product?

  3. How can I protect myself from those hazards?

  4. What should I do in case of an emergency?

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