What are WHMIS and GHS?
WHMIS is Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. It is a Canada-wide classification system designed to provide workplace standards for the control, handling, storage, and disposal of “controlled” products. WHMIS is law under the Canada Labour Code and is applied in Ontario as a regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
GHS is Globally Harmonized System which is an international initiative to standardize chemical hazard classification and communication globally. GHS is not expected to replace WHMIS, but rather will incorporate GHS elements. When implemented in Canada, there will be new standardized classification rules, label requirements and safety data sheets (SDS) formats.
What the law says
WHMIS specifies duties for suppliers, employers and workers. Under WHMIS, employers must provide their workers with information received from suppliers about the hazards associated with any controlled substances or materials they are working with or around. This includes how to safety use, handle and store them. Employers must provide workers with training about the WHMIS system of labeling, containers and using material safety data sheets (MSDS). These provisions apply to substances or materials that the employer purchases or produces.
How WHMIS can affect your business
A safe environment is a productive workplace. Health and safety is not simply a legal obligation or the right thing to do – it is a business opportunity. Effective training and processes reduce the cost of avoidable losses, insurance, lost-time injuries, fines and penalties. You can boost your bottom line through reduced injuries, higher productivity and improved health and safety performance.
What you can do
Keep an up-to-date inventory of every hazardous material in your workplace.
Have a system for assembling information on each of the hazardous materials, including MSDSs, which are provided by your suppliers
Provide training that prepares your staff to recognize and safely work with hazardous materials