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New Ministry of Labour Publication Provides Guidance for WHMIS Transition

In July, 2017, Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) issued a new publication, “A Guide to the Legislation for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)”. This 67-page handbook is intended to give workplace parties a better understanding of WHMIS, and to provide details about the transition process to move from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015.

The new guide covers the federal and Ontario legislation that applies to WHMIS. It also explains the responsibilities of suppliers, employers and workers during and after the transition period.

Other helpful information covers changes that will occur in supplier labels, pictograms and safety data sheets (SDSs). The MOL has included a compliance checklist and links to resources to assist suppliers, manufacturers and employers with the transition.

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada’s national standard for communicating information about hazardous workplace products. It is implemented through complementary federal, provincial and territorial laws.

In 2015 WHMIS legislation was amended to adopt new international standards for classifying hazardous materials and providing information on labels and safety data sheets. These new standards are part of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) being phased in across Canada between February 2015 and December 2018.

The GHS standards have been endorsed by the United Nations. They are also being implemented in many other countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and members of the European Union.

The original WHMIS requirements are generally referred to as “WHMIS 1988” and the new ones are called “WHMIS 2015.” To give suppliers, employers and workers time to adapt to the new system, the transition from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 has been taking place in three phases.

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