All You Need to Know About Canada’s WHMIS


WHMIS stands for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. Canada’s requirements for hazard classification and communication for workplace chemicals (WHMIS) were updated in 2015 to include GHS, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. These requirements are now known as WHMIS 2015. After a transition period from WHMIS 1988 that ended on December 1, 2018, all workplace chemicals must meet the hazard classification and communication requirements established by WHMIS 2015.

What are the three elements of WHMIS 2015?

WHMIS has three important elements designed to provide workers with critical information to protect themselves from misuse or overexposure to hazardous products.

1. Labels

The purpose of WHMIS labels is to alert workers to potential hazards with the materials on which the labels are located. They also provide details on how to eliminate or greatly reduce those hazards. There are two kinds of labels in WHMIS 2015. The supplier label is attached to the hazardous product by the supplier before the product reaches the workplace. The workplace label is attached to the hazardous product if the original supplier label falls off or a worker pours the product into a new container.

2. Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

The second element of WHMIS 2015 focuses on Safety Data Sheets. A Safety Data Sheet is a document that includes specific technical information about a certain product. Before a supplier ships a hazardous product to a workplace, they are responsible for attaching a Safety Data Sheet. This sheet includes but is not restricted to information about the product’s use, handling, storage, emergency procedures and extremely important safety information that a user must understand. Each safety data sheet comprises 16 sections, and in Canada, the safety data sheet must be available to workers in both English and French.

3. WHMIS Education & Training

The third element of WHMIS 2015 is education and training. All Canadian workers who are working with or may be exposed to hazardous products must be provided with WHMIS training and education. Training must include general knowledge of WHMIS fundamentals and specific information relative to the workplace.

During the WHMIS 2015 training session, it is important to instruct workers on the location of the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and how to read the datasheet as it contains important first aid, usage and storage instructions. In addition, workers need to know how to read a workplace and a supplier label. Should an employee decant a hazardous product from a labelled container into a new container, the individual must immediately advise their supervisor so a workplace label can be created and attached to the new container. Lastly, every worker must understand the WHMIS 2015 pictograms to recognize the type of risk they are handling.



Yes, WHMIS is the law. WHMIS became law through complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations in 1988. This original system is identified as WHMIS 1988. Updates to implement GHS are referred to as WHMIS 2015.


What are the employers’ duties under WHMIS?

Whenever a hazardous product is used in the workplace, employers must:

  • Educate and train workers on the dangers and safe use of products.
  • Ensure that there are proper labels on hazardous products.
  • Prepare workplace labels as required.
  • Prepare SDSs, as needed (e.g., if an employer manufactures a dangerous product used onsite).
  • Provide access to up-to-date SDSs to workers.
  • Ensure proper control standards are set to protect workers’ health and safety.

Who enforces WHMIS?

WHMIS requirements are enforced through coordinated and interlocking Health Canada and federal, provincial, and territorial occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. WHMIS is implemented by the provincial government or the Labour Program for federally regulated workplaces.

How Can Global Hazmat Help?

Our 2015 WHMIS Training and Consulting services offer Company Specific training onsite (at your facility) or by webinar, Train the Trainer courses, Online/E-learning training, Self-Study training manuals, Customized Audits and onsite evaluations of your current programs and procedures.

We carry WHMIS 2015 pocketbooks, posters, Trainers/Instructors packages, GHS customized and stocked labels, and offer SDS (safety data sheet) management services. If you have a question or want to order training materials, contact our sales team @ 1-877-744-4999 or