WHMIS 2015

What You Need to Know

WHMIS 2015 SymbolsThe national standard Canada uses to classify, label, and communicate information about hazardous products in the workplace, known as WHMIS or WHMIS 1988, is undergoing a multi-year transition that will align it with a global system. The updated system is known as the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). In Canada, it is simply referred to as WHMIS 2015.

During the transition, hazardous products that you use in the workplace may follow WHMIS 1988 requirements or WHMIS 2015 requirements. As a result, you will have the duty to educate and train workers on both systems.

On this page, you'll find key information to help you do that. You will discover what is changing and why, what your legal duties are, and how WHMIS 2015 is being phased in and enforced in both provincially and federally regulated workplaces.

We will also connect you with WSPS resources and solutions that can help.

What Is Changing and Why

WHMIS (the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) is a Canada-wide hazard communication standard for protecting the health and safety of workers who handle hazardous chemicals. In place since 1988, WHMIS has now been aligned with the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

The GHS was developed by the United Nations to replace an assortment of national hazard classification systems (toxic, harmful, hazardous, depending on the country) with one global set of rules for communicating hazard information.

By incorporating GHS standards, WHMIS 2015 provides more detailed and consistent hazard information, making it easier for workers to recognize hazards and protect themselves, and for workplaces to comply with legislated requirements.

Here are the major changes you will see under WHMIS 2015:

  • Products that meet WHMIS 2015 criteria for a hazard class are called "hazardous products" (versus "controlled products" under WHMIS 1988).
  • New class names (e.g., Compressed Gases is now called Gases under Pressure), new physical hazard classes (Combustible Dusts, Simple Asphyxiants, Pyrophoric Gases, and Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified), and new health hazards (Aspiration Hazard and Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified). The criteria for classifying chemicals are also more comprehensive, which means a chemical not previously classified as "controlled" under WHMIS 1988 may now be considered "hazardous" under WHMIS 2015.
  • Supplier labels use standardized language, pictograms, signal words (Danger or Warning) and hazard statements (e.g. Fatal if inhaled) so it's easier to understand the type and degree of the hazard and what precautions to take.
  • Safety data sheets (SDSs) follow a standard 16-section format (compared to 9 sections in material safety data sheets (MSDS) under WHMIS 1988), giving employers and workers more information about both physical (e.g. flammable, reactive, corrosive) and health hazards (e.g. respiratory, skin, acute).

What's the Time Frame for Transition to WHMIS 2015?

The transition to WHMIS 2015 began in February 2015, when amendments to federal laws governing WHMIS came into effect. Provinces and territories are in the process of enacting complementary legislation.

In Ontario, legislation (Bill 85) has been passed to amend WHMIS requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The WHMIS Regulation has also been amended.

The federal government has set out a three-phase transition period to give affected parties time to adapt. Ontario has largely adopted this timeframe with one exception as indicated in the note that follows the table below.

Phases Timing Suppliers
Manufacturers
and Importers
Distributors Employers
Phase 1 From February 11, 2015 to May 31, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 Consult federal or provincial legislation
Phase 2 From June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Phase 3 From September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015
Completion December 1, 2018* Comply with WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 2015 Comply with WHMIS 2015

* Federally-regulated employers who still have WHMIS 1988 products in their workplaces on December 1, 2018 have until May 31, 2019 to use those products. As of June 1, 2019, all products in federally-regulated workplaces must comply with the new requirements. Note: Provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are not being granted this extension. This means these employers must comply by December 1, 2018.

What Are My Duties as an Employer Relating to WHMIS 2015?

Irrespective of the system in place, your WHMIS-related duties do not change.
You are still required to:

  • Ensure hazardous products used in the workplace are properly labeled and are accompanied by safety data sheets.
  • Train workers on how to use labels and data sheets to help protect their health and safety.
  • Train workers on the hazards and safe use of hazardous products in the workplace.
  • Provide workers with access to up-to-date SDSs and labels.
  • Ensure appropriate control measures are in place to protect the health and safety of workers.

During the transition, if you continue to use controlled products in your workplace labeled under WHMIS 1988, you must train and educate workers under that system. If you also use hazardous products labeled under WHMIS 2015, you must train and educate workers under the new system.

How Are WHMIS 2015 Requirements Being Enforced in Ontario?

Here is how enforcement is being carried out in:

Provincially-Regulated Workplaces (Ontario): Effective July 1, 2016, the Ministry of Labour will enforce the new provincial WHMIS 2015 requirements. It will also continue to enforce the WHMIS 1988 requirements for as long as they remain applicable to employers and workers (i.e. until December 1, 2018).

This will ensure that products that comply with either the old or new WHMIS requirements can be used in the workplace, and that workers are properly trained while both sets of requirements are in place.

Federally-Regulated Workplaces: Your workplace falls under the Canada Labour Code with enforcement carried out by the Labour Program of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in partnership with Transport Canada and the National Energy Board.

Compliance with the employer requirements for WHMIS 1988 will continue to be enforced until May 31, 2019, when the transition to WHMIS 2015 is complete.

How Do I Show Compliance with WHMIS 2015 Requirements?

Show compliance with WHMIS 2015 requirements the same way you do WHMIS 1988 requirements.

Inspectors will be checking to see that:

  • You have programs and procedures in place.
  • The products you are using have labels that meet WHMIS 2015 requirements.
  • Education and training records are being kept (both generic and workplace-specific).

What Are My Next Steps?

WSPS offers these suggestions to help you meet the new requirements:

  • Ensure your workplace is WHMIS 1988 compliant. As long as your workplace is using controlled products that have WHMIS 1988 labels, you will need to continue to educate and train workers under this system. If you don't have WHMIS 1988 training in place, WSPS can help you get up to speed fast.
  • Review and revise in-house inventories, processes, training programs, and materials to reflect WHMIS 2015 requirements. Need help tackling this? WSPS consultants can help.
  • Provide generic training to workplace parties on WHMIS 2015 hazard groups and classes and on the content and format of labels and SDSs. This training applies to both hazardous products that have been used previously in the workplace but now have WHMIS 2015 labels, and hazardous products that are new to the workplace. See our easy-to-use training solutions below.
  • Provide workplace-specific training to workers on the safe use, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous products that are new to the workplace or have been newly classified as hazardous under WHMIS 2015. This training is essential for workers who are handling chemicals for the first time.

How WSPS Can Help

WSPS can help you with both your WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 training needs and more. We can answer your questions and provide the resources and solutions that you need to make compliance easier.

New WHMIS 2015 training solutions are now available and more will follow. Watch this page for updates.

To arrange for the help of a WSPS consultant, call 1-877-494-WSPS (9777) or 905-614-1400.

(M)SDS Management Service™

Managing chemical safety and WHMIS compliance just got easier.

Now available through WSPS, the CCOHS online (M)SDS Management Service™ puts all of your material/safety data sheets (M/SDS) in one convenient, secure location for your staff to access anytime. The service also:
  • Keeps your M/SDS current
  • Makes them available anytime to an unlimited number of users
  • Offers choice from an English or French interface
  • Gives you complimentary access to the CCOHS full library of over 400,000 M/SDSs for chemical products and to the CMEMINFO database of comprehensive, practical information on workplace chemicals.

Find out how easy and cost-effective it is to have a customized, current and complete M/SDS collection. Visit: www.wsps.ca/MSDS.

For more information, call 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).

Consulting Services

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are presentations of up to 2 hours in length delivered at your workplace by WSPS consultants. They are designed to help meet your legal duty to provide information about workplace hazards to employees.


Occupational Hygiene

Occupational Hygiene

 WSPS can provide occupational hygiene services including airborne chemical, physical and biological agent exposure assessments, and indoor air quality exposure assessments. The credentials of our occupational hygienists include Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), recognized worldwide, Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH), the Canada-wide designation in occupational hygiene, and Professional Engineer (P.Eng).

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS is the largest Safety Group provider and one of the longest running sponsors in the province. With our extensive experience and proven track record, by working with us and other member firms participating firms can achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Training

WHMIS 1988 & WHMIS 2015 for Workers

WHMIS 1988 & WHMIS 2015 for Workers

NEW! Worker training in both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 / GHS

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Call for pricing

WHMIS 2015 for Workers - Instructor-Led Training (1/2 day)

WHMIS 2015 for Workers - Instructor-Led Training (1/2 day)

WHMIS 2015 training for workers delivered by a WSPS expert.
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$149.00

WHMIS 2015: Train the Trainer

WHMIS 2015: Train the Trainer

NEW! This 1-day course qualifies participants and equips them with everything they need to deliver in-house, instructor-led, WHMIS 2015 training to workers.

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$899.00

E-Courses

HazCom for Workers (English) (1 hour)

HazCom for Workers (English) (1 hour)

Learn about the Hazard Communication Standard 2012 (1910.1200).
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$49.00

WHMIS 2015 for Workers (English)

WHMIS 2015 for Workers (English)

Learn about WHMIS after its alignment with GHS, an internationally consistent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information through labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).
View Details 
$10.00

WHMIS 2015 for Workers (French)

WHMIS 2015 for Workers (French)

Learn about WHMIS after its alignment with GHS, an internationally consistent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information through labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).
View Details 
$10.00

WHMIS 2015: An Introduction (English)

WHMIS 2015: An Introduction (English)

This course provides a basic introduction to the expected changes to WHMIS after GHS. Participants will learn about the expected impacts of these changes for chemical suppliers and employers. Suppliers and employers will gain an appreciation for how they can start to prepare for WHMIS after GHS so that they can ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
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$0.00

WHMIS 2015: An Introduction (French)

WHMIS 2015: An Introduction (French)

This course provides a basic introduction to the expected changes to WHMIS after GHS. Participants will learn about the expected impacts of these changes for chemical suppliers and employers. Suppliers and employers will gain an appreciation for how they can start to prepare for WHMIS after GHS so that they can ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
View Details 
$0.00

Self-paced Training

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program - Additional Print Package

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program - Additional Print Package

Additional print package for the WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program.
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$59.00

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program (DVD)

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program (DVD)

This cost-effective and flexible self-paced program allows you to train workers on WHMIS 2015 at your convenience.
View Details 
$299.00

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program (USB)

WHMIS 2015 for Workers Self-Paced Training Program (USB)

NEW! This cost-effective and flexible self-paced program allows you to train workers on WHMIS 2015 at your convenience.

View Details 
$299.00

Downloads

Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety

Chemical safety tips for workers.
504 KB PDF
Hazard: WHMIS General Information (symbols)

Hazard: WHMIS General Information (symbols)

General WHIMIS information including comparison of 1988 symbols and 2015 pictograms, and 1988 and 2015 Labels.
346 KB PDF
Job Aid - Biohazards in Retail

Job Aid - Biohazards in Retail

Biohazard awareness in the retail sector.
459 KB PDF
Job Aid - Car Wash Detailing

Job Aid - Car Wash Detailing

Car wash detailing can result in a number of different hazards. Use our Job Aid to raise your awareness.
635 KB PDF
Job Aid - Chemical Burns

Job Aid - Chemical Burns

Get hazard awareness information relating to chemical burns in the workplace.
616 KB PDF
Job Aid - Chemicals

Job Aid - Chemicals

"Chemicals are hazardous products, materials, and/or substances used, handled, stored or disposed of in workplaces, learn more."
580 KB PDF
Job Aid - Cylinder

Job Aid - Cylinder

Learn about hazards that can arise from cylinders.
691 KB PDF
Job Aid - Emissions

Job Aid - Emissions

Use our Job Aid to learn about hazards posed by emissions.
717 KB PDF
Job Aid - Janitorial Cleaning Cart

Job Aid - Janitorial Cleaning Cart

There are many hazards that can arise when using janitorial cleaning carts, learn more.
830 KB PDF
Job Aid - Lab Equipment

Job Aid - Lab Equipment

Lab equipment hazard awareness information.
649 KB PDF
Welding Safety

Welding Safety

Welding safety tips for workers.
483 KB PDF

Articles

Ontario's New WHMIS regulation: 2 key changes, plus implementation tips

Ontario's New WHMIS regulation: 2 key changes, plus implementation tips

As of July 1, Ontario moved one step closer to full alignment with WHMIS 2015, the new national standard for classifying, labelling and communicating information about hazardous products in the workplace. This was the day on which amendments to Ontario's WHMIS Regulation came into force - amendments that affect your workplace. We can help you understand the changes and start complying.

Jul 29, 2016
WHMIS 2015: 4 top training questions from employers

WHMIS 2015: 4 top training questions from employers

Canada's Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) changed on February 11, 2015 to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This new WHMIS is called "WHMIS 2015" and the original version is now referred to as "WHMIS 1988."

Mar 03, 2016
Meet new WHMIS / GHS compliance deadlines with these 6 steps

Meet new WHMIS / GHS compliance deadlines with these 6 steps

Manufacturers, importers and distributors of hazardous products now have a series of deadlines for complying with changes to Canada's Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) that have been in the works for years. These deadlines, published in a February issue of the Canada Gazette Part II, also apply to federally regulated employers. Employers under provincial and territorial jurisdiction can likely expect the same or slightly staggered deadlines.

Mar 06, 2015
From WHMIS to GHS: what you need to do

From WHMIS to GHS: what you need to do

Canada's transition from WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) to GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) inspires both dread and impatience - feelings from "I'm so not looking forward to this," to "Let's just get on with it already."

Jun 05, 2014
Start now to prepare for GHS

Start now to prepare for GHS

As Canada transitions from the national Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) - sometime in 2015 - workplaces will likely have a one-year period to realign their existing WHMIS program and training.

Aug 06, 2013