Out with the old, in with the new: Moving to WHMIS 2015
Chances are you and the workers around you have come into direct or indirect contact with dozens of hazardous materials since you woke up this morning. These chemicals can be found virtually everywhere in your building. That is why staying up-to-date with new Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) changes is so important if you are to ensure workplace safety.
Changes have already started to take place as we move from WHMIS 1988 to the new WHMIS 2015. The transition began in 2015 and will continue until December 2018. New legislation and regulations will comply with the international standards set by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GSA).
What exactly is changing?
While the major responsibilities of employers and workers will not change under WHMIS 2015, here are a few things that will:
- New classification rules
- New label requirements, including pictograms instead of symbols that correspond to hazard classes (physical hazards and health hazards)
- New format for safety data sheets (SDS) – previously known as ‘material safety data sheets’
How will this affect WHMIS training?
During the transition, workers are still required to be trained on both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015. Housing providers should ensure workers are educated about and trained on WHMIS 2015 as new labels and products enter your workplace. The extent of the training will depend on if a product is new to the workplace.
For example, if a hazardous product is brought into the workplace with WHMIS 2015 labels and safety data sheets and it was not previously used, the product may be stored but not used until workers are trained on the new supplier labels and safety data sheets. This also applies if a product is considered hazardous under WHMIS 2015 but was not classified as such under the previous system.
The Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) offer WHMIS 2015 eLearning for $20.
Things are changing, but you are still responsible for:
- Ensuring all chemicals are labelled appropriately
- Keeping up-to-date safety data sheets (formerly ‘material safety data sheets’) and labels
- Keeping your staff up-to-date with their WHMIS training and certifications
For more information on WHMIS 2015, visit the Ontario Labour of Ministry’s website.