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Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

You may have noticed a change with the hazardous product labelling at your worksite. This is due to the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The Globally Harmonized System was initiated to standardize information on the safe use of hazardous products in Canadian workplaces and with our major trading partners.

For the sake of clarity, the original WHMIS referred to as WHMIS 1988 will be replaced with the updated version called WHMIS 2015. British Columbia amended the WHMIS sections of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) to be consistent with these changes. This can be found under Part 5 of the Regulation.

WHMIS 2015 will still require employers to:

  • Ensure that all hazardous products are properly labelled
  • Make Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) readily available to workers
  • Prepare workplace labels and SDSs as necessary
  • Provide worker education and training
  • Ensure appropriate control measures to protect the health and safety of workers
  • Consult with the health and safety committee (or representative) when developing, implementing or reviewing the education and training programs.
  • Review their overall WHMIS education and training program, at least annually or more often if there is a change in work conditions, hazard information or similar. This review should also be done in consultation with the health and safety committee or representative.

Workers are required to:

  • Participate in WHMIS training programs
  • Take necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers
  • Participate in identifying and controlling hazards

A multi-year transition plan is in effect and during the transition period, both the original WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 system may be used in the workplace. If products from both systems are used in the workplace, employers must educate and train workers and comply with both systems concurrently, including training on both. The transition to WHMIS 2015 must be completed by December 1, 2018.

More training about WHMIS 2015 will be available for Area 07 OHS representatives at the Okanagan area office in Kelowna. An Occupational Health course (BC Fed) is booked for November 15, 2016. WHMIS 2015 information can also be found at the following websites.


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Health Canada at

Workers Compensation Board of BC at

Questions? Contact your BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Officers at [email protected]