Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Update

When will WHMIS 2015 training be available? This is a common question from our clients and there is important information you need before you make a decision to conduct WHMIS 2015 training in Ontario.

WHMIS Training“Buyer Beware” as there are organizations that are offering compliance training before the regulation has been released. The Ministry of Labour has posted information about avoiding aggressive sales tactics that can be found here.

With the roll out of WHMIS 2015, organizations need to recognize that there is a distinction between the federal and provincial levels with respect to the legislated requirements. While the federal government has released the legislation for federally regulated workers, each province develops legislation that adopts and fine tunes the federal version to fit individual provincial needs. Ontario has Bill 85, Strengthening and Improving Government Act, 2015 and will be establishing changes to the OHS Act. Bill 85 passed 1st reading and the second reading debate started in May. The process still requires 3rd reading and then Royal Assent before the regulation will be enacted into law.

Once the Ontario regulation is finalized PSHSA WHMIS 2015 training will include all mandatory information including information on both the supplier label and workplace label, Safety Data Sheet (SDS), procedures required for safe use, handling and disposal of a hazardous product, procedures to follow if the hazardous product may be present in the air and a worker may be exposed as well as procedures that must be followed in an emergency that involve the hazardous product. PSHSA is working closely with the province to ensure our content meets all the requirements of WHMIS 2015 training.


Here are some of our WHMIS Resources available:

Moving to the Global Harmonized System (GHS) from WHMIS

WHMIS to GHS ThumbnailA free 30 minute joint webinar with a Ministry of Labour Provincial Hygienist and PSHSA describes the current status of GHS. This session will provide an update on what you need to know to prepare for the transition from WHMIS, what we know and don’t know and how to stay in compliance.

View the Webinar


WHMIS 2015 Fast Fact

WHMIS 2015 Fast Facts ThumbnailIn anticipation of the move to the Global Harmonized System (see our webinar here), people often have questions about how this change will affect their organization. Use this Fast Fact to understand the difference between GHS and WHMIS and make your organization’s transition easier for management and employees.

Read the Fast Fact



Small Business Resource Manual

Small Business Resource ManualThis booklet is designed to make health and safety as easy as possible. PSHSA offers you a simple step-by-step process, including an easy to follow action checklist to help you to set up and maintain a basic health and safety program.

Read the Manual

WHMIS Training

WHMIS training is a legal requirement for employees who may be exposed to hazardous materials. To ensure worker protection, employers must train workers about WHMIS 2015 as new labels and SDSs appear in workplaces. Our eLearning module will train your employees and meet compliance legislation. We can provide the module on a per user basis or implement the course into your LMS for a one-time fee, for an unlimited number of users. Please call for more details.

You will be able to provide participants with the skills necessary to protect their health and safety when working with, or in proximity to, WHMIS-controlled products.

On April 2, 2015, Ontario introduced the Strengthening and Improving Government Act, 2015 (Bill 85). Proposed amendments mean a 2015 Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). WHMIS has aligned with the worldwide hazard communication system known as GHS – the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The goal is to harmonize and mitigate risks through better understanding across borders.

PSHSA WHMIS 2015 eLearning

WHMIS 2015Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) has developed WHMIS Online training to provide the essential information needed for a comprehensive workplace specific WHMIS training program for all workers in low risk occupations.

The program serves as a foundation for worksite specific training and continued training for workers in higher risks and includes a short introduction to the revisions that are expected to take place when Canada adopts the Globally Harmonized hazardous labelling & symbols system.

See WHMIS 2015 eLearning

Prepare Your Workplace for the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

What is GHS? WHMIS 1988 + GHS = WHMIS 2015: Prepare for the changes caused by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is an internationally consistent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information through labels and safety data sheets. The implementation of GHS will mean that all workplaces will have consistent hazard information. The intent of GHS is to help facilitate trade by eliminating multiple classification systems as well as enhance protection of human health by using standard messaging.

Using the GHS classification system, WHMIS 1988 will become WHMIS 2015. You still have time: WHMIS – 2015 is expected to be implemented between December 2014 and June 2015, and there will be a period of transition following implementation.

What Changes?

The four cornerstones of WHMIS – 1988 were Classification, Training, Labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). WHMIS – 2015 is based on these same four building blocks and will provide improved protection for workers when handling hazardous material. Overall the current roles and responsibilities set out in WHMIS that apply to suppliers, employers and workers will remain the same. While some elements and symbols may be retained, there are changes to be aware of which are summarized below.

Classification Rules

GHS classification takes a “building block approach”. The three major hazard groups are: health hazards, physical hazards and environmental hazards. There are then classes and categories under each of these three groups.

Health Hazards Classes:
• Acute toxicity
• Skin corrosion/irritation
• Serious eye damage/eye irritation
• Respiratory sensitization/skin sensitization
• Germ cell mutagenicity
• Carcinogenicity
• Reproductive toxicity
• Specific target organ toxicity – single exposure
• Specific target organ toxicity – repeated exposure
• Aspiration hazard

Physical Hazard Classes:
• Explosives
• Flammable gases
• Flammable aerosols
• Flammable liquids
• Flammable solids
• Oxidizing gases
• Oxidizing liquids
• Oxidizing solids
• Self-reactive substances and mixtures
• Pyrophoric liquids
• Pyrophoric solids
• Self-heating substances and mixtures
• Organic peroxides
• Corrosive to metals
• Gases under pressure
• Substances and mixtures which, contact with water, emit flammable gases

Environmental Hazard Class
• Hazardous to aquatic environment


Material Safety Data Sheet Requirements (MSDS) require nine pieces of information whereas Safety Data Sheets (SDS) have 16 requirements.

1. Identification
2. Hazard identification
3. Composition information on ingredients
4. First aid measures
5. Fire fighting measures
6. Accidental release measures
7. Handling and storage
8. Exposure controls/Personal protection
9. Physical and chemical properties
10. Stability and reactivity
11. Toxicology information
12. Ecological information
13. Disposal considerations
14. Transport information
15. Regulatory information
16. Other information


A symbol is called a pictogram when it has a border as shown. GHS has nine pictograms used to classify and label chemicals. A label or SDS that is compliant with the United States Hazard Communication Standard (2012) may not be sufficient for compliance in Canada. The supplier must be compliant with the Canadian requirements, whether the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) or the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). It is expected that a biohazard symbol will be introduced through provincial legislation. Learn to identify the hazards identified by the GHS pictograms:

WHMIS Flame symbolFlame: flammable, self-reactive, pyrophoric, self- heating, in contact with water, emits flammable gases, organic peroxide.

WHMIS Exclaim symbolExclamation mark: irritation (skin or eyes), skin sensitization, acute toxicity (harmful), specific target organ toxicity (single exposure), hazardous to the ozone layer.

WHMIS Health HazardHealth hazard: carcinogenicity, respiratory sensitization, reproductive toxicity, specific target organ – single or repeated exposure, germ cell mutagenicity, aspiration hazard

WHMIS Flame symbolSkull and crossbones: acute toxicity (fatal or toxic)

WHMIS Explosion symbolExploding bomb: explosive, self-reactive, organic peroxide

WHMIS flame over circle symbolFlame over circle: oxidizer

WHMIS Acid symbolCorrosion: corrosive

WHMIS Bottle symbolGas cylinder: gas under pressure

WHMIS Aquatic symbolEnvironment: hazardous to the aquatic environment (acute or long term)

WHMIS Biohazard symbolBiohazard: infectious materials. Symbol yet to be confirmed.

The same symbol can represent more than one hazard class (i.e. carcinogenicity, germ cell mutagenicity, respiratory sensitizer, etc.) In addition, one hazard class can have more than one symbol (i.e. acute toxicity: categories 1, 2 and 3 versus category 4).

Learn more

What Can You Do To Prepare?

Employers will see an increased number of SDSs coming to the workplace as we transition to GHS. As a result, employers will need to manage both MSDSs and SDSs.

A first step is to gather all current MSDS/SDSs and investigate the use and benefit of adopting a MSDS/ SDS Management System. Employers will also need to ensure hazardous materials are properly labeled and that
workplace labels are up to date and SDSs are prepared or provided by the supplier. Always ensure appropriate control measures recommended in the SDS are in place to protect worker health and safety.

Employers should continue to educate and train workers on hazards and the safe use of products in the workplace. While global standardization and harmonization will eventually simplify hazard recognition, employees will need to be trained on both WHMIS and GHS until the transition
is complete. Training will need to include the changes that implementing GHS will have on WHMIS, such as new terminology, symbols and pictograms, labeling, and SDSs.

Employers should review their current training programs and identify required updates. At the same time, you should review your internal policies and workplace procedures against GHS requirements and make required updates by the implementation deadline.

Where Can You Find More Information?

Health Canada:


The Canada Gazette, Part II :


Ontario WHMIS Regulation 860: