Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

You know from your employer that you need WHMIS training. But what exactly is it? In this article, we’re going to break down what WHMIS stands for and what it means for you in your job and industry.

What exactly is WHMIS?

WHMIS stands for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. There are a few things that people might mean when they talk about WHMIS, but in essence, they all have to do with making working with hazardous materials safer and simpler for the average Canadian employee.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System Legislation

Workers lifting wood

WHMIS legislation has existed in Canadian law for decades. The first iteration of Workplace Hazardous Material Information System legislation was implemented in 1988. This mandated that workplaces needed to have specific procedures in place for workers to handle materials that might be hazardous to their health.

It also set a standardized system of pictographs that indicated the types of hazards (chemical burns, fumes, etc.) that a substance might pose to workers. This system was in place for nearly 30 years before it was updated and revamped.

The updated version of WHMIS legislation passed parliament in 2015. It gave updates to certain procedures, and mandated changes to standardize pictographs and labels that are put on hazardous materials to make sure that there was more consistency between manufacturers, and to provide clearer information to users.

The updated version of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System was finalized in 2015, and a transition between the old (WHMIS 1988) and new (WHMIS 2015) regulations occurred between early 2015 and late 2018.

WHMIS 2015 has now been fully implemented and is the current standard for handling hazardous materials safely in Canadian workplaces.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System Training

The new WHMIS standards include regular training and retraining of employees and supervisors who may come into contact with hazardous materials in the course of their work. WHMIS legislation requires employers to make provisions for a training program, and for employees to receive training and frequent retraining on the standards and practices set forth in the legislation.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System tests should also be administered so that employees can demonstrate their knowledge, and receive certification.

WHMIS training can be completed in person or online, and WHMIS certification is recommended at least once a year.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System Certificate

All workers who come into contact or handle hazardous materials should be WHMIS certified. After receiving training, they should take an approved WHMIS test and pass. Once they have done so, they should receive certification.

Your WHMIS certificate will show that you, as a worker, have taken the time and effort to learn about safety in your workplace. The certificate will show that you have taken the required coursework and passed the test demonstrating your knowledge. It will also show a suggested retest date.

WHMIS certificates don’t have an expiration, but OHS recommends retesting at least yearly and requires new training when you switch jobs, so making sure you have an up-to-date WHMIS certificate is important.

How do I comply with WHMIS?

The best way to be WHMIS compliant as a worker is to make sure that you have received WHMIS certification in the past year.

The training is mandatory, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult or dull. With online WHMIS training provided by eSafetyFirst, you learn at your own pace using engaging and interactive coursework. And you can review and retest as often as you need for no additional fee.

Once you’ve passed your test, you can print your WHMIS certificate immediately to provide for a current or prospective employer. They’ll know that you take safety in the workplace seriously, and you’ll know everything you need to stay safe and accident-free on the job.

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