WHMIS and Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988 is being updated to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals and is now being referred to as WHMIS 2015. The full transition to WHMIS 2015 will be completed in December 2018.

Hazard Communication

What communication is required for spaces or containers with hazardous materials?

By provincial and federal law, any door leading to a space where hazardous materials are used or stored must alert anyone entering to the hazards within. Likewise, containers of hazardous materials must also have labelling. Please note that WHMIS 1988 is being updated to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals and is now being referred to as WHMIS 2015. The roles and responsibilities of suppliers, employers and workers have remained unchanged. The full transition to WHMIS 2015 will be completed in December 2018.

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What laboratory door signage & labels are required?

Door-posterLaboratory Hazard Door Signage provides emergency responders with a comprehensive view of the hazard classes contained within a laboratory space to determine an appropriate and effective response to emergency situations. These signs are placed at the entrance of workspaces where hazards exist. To see what each sign symbolizes, see the Laboratory Hazard Signage Document (PDF).

Whenever hazardous materials of a specific class are added to or removed from the laboratory’s inventory, this information must also be passed on to Risk Management Services to update the sign. To request, update, or replace an existing poster fill out the Laboratory Hazard Signage Application Form (WORD) and email to the RMS Research Safety Office.

Questions about the signage program should be directed to the RMS Research Safety Office.

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Hazard Classes and Categories

What are the hazard classes and categories?

Hazardous products are divided into two major hazard groups in WHMIS 2015:

  1. Physical hazards
    • Based on the Physical or Chemical properties of the product such as flammability, reactivity, or corrosivity to metals
  1. Health hazards
    • Based on the ability of the product to cause a health effect such as:
      • Eye Irritation
      • Respiratory sensitization (may cause allergy or asthma symptoms, or breathing difficulties)
      • Carcinogenicity (may cause cancer)

These groups are divided into classes and some classes are further divided into categories. To find out more information, read WorkSafeBC’s publication.

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Pictograms and Labels

What are WHMIS pictograms & labels?

Symbols and Pictograms are graphic images that immediately show you what type of hazard a hazardous product presents.

According to WHMIS 2015 there are 3 types of labels:  supplier, workplace and laboratory labels. The requirements of each label and examples are provided in the document RMS WHMIS Label Program (PDF). A Template for Printing Workplace Labels (WORD) on commercially available Avery 05163 Labels is also provided as an optional tool.
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Material Safety Data Sheets & Safety Data Sheets

What are material safety data sheets & safety data sheets?

Material Safety Data Sheets have been modified by WHMIS 2015 and will be called Safety Data Sheets. They are comprised of a standard 16-section format with new information requirements. All information is specified in a particular order.

Laboratories should have access to the most current Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical in their possession. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) database provides up to date SDS’s.

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Chemical Safety Resources & Documents

How to find additional Chemical Safety Information?

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