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July 2017

Basic Information about Workplace Hazardous Material Information System

Basic Information about Workplace Hazardous Material Information System

WHMIS represents Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System and is commonly used in Canada. It’s a communication standard dealing with workplace hazards and was enacted on 31st October 1988. WHMIS classification was enacted to address three main issues. The first aim of this enactment was to ensure that there are safety labels on containers containing dangerous material. The enactment made it mandatory for people dealing with hazardous products to provide material safety data sheets. Finally, the law by the Canadian government was meant to provide workers education and training programs about how to deal with hazardous materials. This law is overseen by the human resources development and they are the people who inspect whether hazardous materials have WHMIS labels and WHMIS symbols.

Recent amendments
Like any other law, the WHMIS is also subject to amendments and corrections. The latest amendment was carried out in the year 2015 as gazetted by the Canadian government. This amendment involved making the previous version compatible with international standards commonly known as GHS. However, for the WHMIS to be successful, all stakeholders had to agree. This, therefore, saw the consultation between the government, industry and organized labor. The stakeholders agree that this is a shared responsibility and through consensus, the law can continue to evolve.

WHMIS Classification
Under this law, hazardous materials are classified into different categories. The classification results to six classes with each class represented by a specific symbol to differentiate them from other products. Class A consists of one subcategory of compressed gas. Class B represents flammable and combustible materials and has six subcategories. These small categories include flammable gas, flammable liquid, combustible liquid, flammable solid as well as flammable aerosol and reactive flammable material.

Class C consists of oxidizing material and has no subcategory. Class D, on the other hand, consists of infectious and poisonous material and has three subcategories. The first subcategory is one that deals with poisonous products that have immediate effects that are also toxic. The subcategory consists of materials that are said to cause other toxic effects. Finally, the last subcategory in this section deals with biohazardous infection material. The last classes represent corrosive material and dangerously reactive material.

Training and education under WHMIS
Education under WHMIS can be used to explain the instruction that is availed to workers in Canada about how they should handle products that have been listed as controlled by WHMIS. Training, on the other hand, can be referred to the process of giving in site-specific information. This information can include various procedures such as emergency and work procedures. It’s a requirement that all Canadian workers dealing with such hazardous products should be trained and should embrace the program. However, requirements differ from one jurisdiction to the other. You can learn additional information at ICC Compliance Center.