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WHMIS Frequently Asked Questions

See below for answers to frequently asked WHMIS questions. Get answers on why it's called WHMIS 2015, how and when to get certified, who requires training and more.

What does WHMIS stand for?

WHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

What is the meaning of WHMIS?

The national standard that Canada uses to classify, label, and communicate information about hazardous products in the workplace is known as WHMIS 2015. WHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

This standard aligns with a global system known as GHS which stands for the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

What is the main difference between WHMIS 1988 and 2015?

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."

Why is it called WHMIS 2015?

Since the integration with GHS, it's was rebranded as WHMIS 2015.

What is GHS in WHMIS?

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.

Does GHS replace WHMIS?

WHMIS has been aligned with the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

What is the difference between education and training for WHMIS?

WHMIS education refers to how WHMIS works, hazard classes, information found on the supplier label and workplace label, and what that information means, information found on the SDS, and what that information means.

WHMIS training refers to the site- and job-specific information that covers your workplace's procedures for storage, handling, safe use, disposal, emergencies, and spills. After completing WHMIS education and training, workers should understand:

  1. The hazards of the product(s) they work with
  2. How to protect themselves from those hazards
  3. What to do in case of an emergency
  4. Where to find more information about hazardous products

Is WHMIS training mandatory in Ontario?

Training workers in WHMIS 2015 is required by law. WHMIS applies to all workplaces governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The overall purpose of WHMIS is to help ensure a safer and healthier workplace.

Does my business need WHMIS?

WHMIS 2015 training is required for any workplace that uses chemicals labelled under WHMIS 2015.

You can sign yourself or your employees up for the WHMIS online training course here.

Who needs WHMIS training?

WHMIS 2015 training is intended for any worker who may be exposed to chemicals while at work. By law, employers are required to provide information and instruction to workers about WHMIS 2015, including labels and safety data sheets or SDSs.

Sign your employees up for the WHMIS online training course here.

Who enforces WHMIS in Canada?

Here is how enforcement is being carried out in:

  • Provincially-Regulated Workplaces (Ontario): As of July 1, 2016, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development has been responsible for enforcing the provincial WHMIS 2015 requirements.
  • 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.

How long is a WHMIS certificate good for?

Although there is no expiry date to the certificate, it is recommended to complete WHMIS training on an annual basis. The frequency of update and review should be determined by your employer in consultation with your health and safety committee. It may be more or less frequently than annually, depending on whether there is a change of circumstance or a perceived necessity. (Please refer to Section 42 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for more information). For more information visit MOL Resources.

How long does it take to complete WHMIS online?

Sign up for WSPS WHMIS Online Training today. This self-paced online course, test and certification takes about an hour to complete. Once completed, you can download a digital copy or print your WHMIS certificate immediately.

NOTE: Generic WHMIS training needs to be supplemented with workplace-specific training that trains workers on the safe use, handling, storage and disposal of the actual hazardous products that the worker may be exposed to.

How do I get WHMIS certified?

Sign up for WHMIS Online Training today.

  • Self-paced, 1-hour online course, test and certification
  • Download a digital copy or print your WHMIS certificate immediately
  • Covers required WHMIS training and certification for workers and employers who use, store and handle hazardous materials in the workplace.

Who is this recommended for?

This course is suitable for employees in organizations of all sizes, in industries and occupations where WHMIS-controlled products are found.

All you need is a computer, access to the Internet - and you are ready to go! This e-learning course is designed to help you learn at your own pace and in your own environment at your own convenience.

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