WHMIS has Changed
Many companies are unaware of the change that is currently taking place in Ontario regarding the way hazardous materials in the workplace are classified and communicated. WHMIS as a law has changed. The new law came into effect in early 2015. At that time, employers became responsible for ensuring that their workplace transitions into the requirements of the new law.
Some Highlights of the New Legislation
WHMIS 2015 is based on a international system of classifying and communicating hazardous chemicals. This system is called the Globally Harmonized System, or GHS. The GHS model was used to make changes to our WHMIS law. These changes can be easily seen in the new pictograms for hazards, the new look and content of supplier labels, and the changes to the requirements for safety data sheets or SDS (formally material safety data sheets – MSDS).
How is the new WHMIS law being transitioned in the Province? Take a look at the timeline below.
Timing: February 11, 2015 to May 31, 2017
- Suppliers who are chemical manufacturers or importers may sell hazardous products with either the old WHMIS labels and safety data sheets or the new ones.
- Employers may receive and use hazardous products with either the old WHMIS labels and safety data sheets or the new ones.
Timing: June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018
- Chemical manufacturers and importers must sell hazardous products with labels and safety data sheets that comply with only the new WHMIS 2015 requirements.
- Suppliers who are chemical distributors may continue to sell hazardous products with either the old WHMIS labels and safety data sheets or the new ones.
- Employers may continue to receive and use hazardous products with either the old WHMIS labels and safety data sheets or the new ones.
Timing: June 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018
- Distributors must sell hazardous products that comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements only.
- Employers will have these final six months of the transition to bring their existing inventories of hazardous products into compliance with WHMIS 2015.
By December 1, 2018, the transition to WHMIS 2015 must be complete for all parties. There should be no hazardous products in the workplace with old WHMIS labels and safety data sheets.
Is the Ministry of Labour Enforcing the New WHMIS 2015?
As of July 1st, 2016 MOL inspectors began enforcing WHMIS 2015 requirements. They will also continue to enforce the “old” WHMIS 1988 requirements up to December 2018 as long at they are applicable in the workplace. MOL expects workers to be trained in both the “old” and “new” WHMIS standards if the workplace continues to use products that have hazards communicated under the 1988 and 2015 WHMIS standards.
Which Laws apply to WHMIS?
Occupational Health and Safety Act – clauses 25(2)(a,d)
Ontario Regulation 860 Workplace Hazardous Material Information System subsection 6(1).
Ontario Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments section 130.
What Do We Need to Do Now?
- Ensure Your Workers are Trained in both the “old” (1988) WHMIS standard and the “new” (2015) WHMIS standard as suppliers may already be shipping new WHMIS labels and safety data sheets to your workplace.
- Ensure that all containers that store hazardous materials are properly labelled and that the safety data sheets for them are available and up-to-date.
- Ensure that workers use, store and dispose of hazardous materials according to the material’s safety data sheet. Employers should be particularly vigilant when it comes to workers wearing the appropriate protective equipment when using the chemicals. Additional controls as prescribed in the safety data sheets, such as good ventilation, should also be in place when using hazardous materials.
We encourage employers to be proactive in providing workers with the education and tools they need to protect themselves at work. If you would like to discuss the specific needs of your workplace or would like to have a consultant visit you on-site, please send us an email or contact us with your specific requests. We are here to help!
FREE! WHMIS 2015 Fact Sheet (downloadable pdf)
FREE! Webinar: How Canada is Adopting GHS, presented by CCOHS
FREE! New WHMIS pictograms (downloadable pdf)