Policy Statement

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation was established under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to give employers, employees and the public information about hazardous materials used in the workplace.

This policy is intended to ensure, at a minimum, compliance with the requirements of the WHMIS regulation (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 860). It applies at all City locations where WHMIS-controlled products are used and/or stored.

Note: Some hazardous substances may be exempt from certain WHMIS requirements such as labels and (material) safety data sheets. These substances are generally regulated by other legislation. Regardless of these exemptions, employees who work with or may be exposed to a hazardous product in the course of their work shall receive training on their hazards and in the safe use, handling and storage procedures. (Material) safety data sheets shall also be kept at the workplace and provided to the joint health and safety committee/health and safety representative.

Exemptions to WHMIS include:

  • An explosive within the meaning of the Explosives Act (Canada)
  • A cosmetic, device, drug or food within the meaning of the Food and Drugs Act (Canada)
  • A pest control product within the meaning of the Pest Control Products Act (Canada)
  • A nuclear substance that is radioactive within the meaning of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (Canada)
  • A consumer product within the meaning of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (Canada)
  • A tobacco product within the meaning of the Tobacco Act (Canada)

Definitions

WHMIS 1988:

The previous system for providing information on the safe use of hazardous materials in Canadian workplaces. Information is provided by means of product labels, material safety data sheets and worker education programs.

WHMIS 2015:

The system that is currently in force and has aligned with the worldwide hazard communication system – the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). New hazard classes, hazard and precautionary statements, as well as a standardized safety data sheet format are some of the key requirements from the alignment.

Transition Period:

The period that starts when WHMIS 2015 comes into force and ends on December 1, 2018 that is synchronized nationally across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. The purpose of this period is to give suppliers, employers and workers time to implement WHMIS 2015.

Transition Phases:

The three phases that make up the transition period from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015. See Table 1 for timing and requirements for compliance.

 

Table 1. WHMIS 2015 Transition Phases

Phases Timing Suppliers – Manufacturers and Importers Suppliers Distributors Employers
Phase 1 Timing From coming-into-force to May 31, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015, as either products may be received
Phase 2 From June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with WHMIS 1988 or WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015, as either products may be received
Phase 3 From September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015, as either products may be received
Completion December 1, 2018 Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements Comply with WHMIS 2015 requirements

Source: Health Canada. WHMIS Transition. May 24, 2017.

Hazardous Product:

Any product mixture, material or substance that is classified in accordance with the Hazardous Products Regulations (Canada) in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in Schedule 2 under the Hazardous Products Act (Canada).

Safety Data Sheet:

(“Material Safety Data Sheet” under WHMIS 1988.) A summary document that provides information about the hazard of a product and advice about safety precautions, including safe handling and emergency measures. Safety data sheets tell users what the hazards of the product are, how to use the product safely, what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, how to recognize symptoms of exposure and what to do if emergencies occur.

Supplier Label:

With respect to a hazardous product, a label provided by a supplier that contains the information required by the Hazardous Products Regulations (Canada) for that hazardous product.

Workplace Label:

With respect to a hazardous product, a label that discloses,

a) a product identifier identical to that found on the safety data sheet for the
hazardous product,
b) information for the safe handling of the hazardous product, and
c) that a safety data sheet, if supplied or produced, is available. Workplace labels are required for employer-produced products and for products transferred from a supplier’s container to another container.

Generic Training:

Training provided to employees that includes generic information as set out in the WHMIS Training Curriculum.

Product-Specific Training:

Training provided to employees that includes specific information including specific work procedures, spill procedures, storage procedures, emergency procedures, personal protective equipment and first aid measures.

Responsibilities

Various workplace parties have responsibility for ensuring full compliance with WHMIS legislation.

A. Senior Managers will:

    • Establish methods to ensure the responsibilities under section I1 and I2 are met by divisional staff if the Purchasing and Materials Management Division (PMMD) is not directly involved in the purchase of WHMIS-controlled products.
    • Ensure that both generic and product-specific training is provided to all employees who may be exposed to WHMIS-controlled products. Refer to Appendix B for a sample product-specific training checklist.
    • Ensure that training needs are reviewed in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative on an annual basis.
    • Ensure that the appropriate safe handling procedures and workplace controls are identified and implemented.
    • Designate the following responsibilities to appropriate individuals, whose names are forwarded to local health and safety consultants.
      • Making updated (material) safety data sheets for WHMIS-controlled products available and accessible to all employees who may potentially be exposed to these products.
      • Providing copies of all (material) safety data sheets to the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative. This includes (material) safety data sheets for all existing products, new products and revised (material) safety data sheets.
      • When requested, providing copies of (material) safety data sheets to the Medical Officer of Health or Toronto Fire Services.
      • Ensuring all WHMIS-controlled products entering the workplace have appropriate supplier labels and (material) safety data sheets, including samples provided by external sales agents.

B. Supervisory staff will:

      • Advise employees of the location of (material) safety data sheets for WHMIS-controlled products.
      • Advise employees (who may be exposed to WHMIS-controlled products) of the hazards associated with the products used in their workplace.
      • Co-ordinate the provision of generic and product-specific WHMIS training for employees prior to assigning them to work with WHMIS-controlled products.
      • Communicate and enforce safe work procedures and personal protective equipment requirements.
      • Communicate to employees that WHMIS-controlled products in the workplace are not to be used until the (material) safety data sheet has been reviewed and appropriate measures are in place
      • Intervene if WHMIS-controlled products are being used by contractors in a manner that places the health and safety of City employees at risk.
      • Consider whether the use of any WHMIS-controlled product is likely to generate occupant health and safety concerns and if so, consider control measures (e.g. not using the product, using a substitute product, scheduling work after hours or on weekends, increasing ventilation) to eliminate or minimize exposure.

C. Employees will:

      • Attend WHMIS training as required by the City.
      • Not use WHMIS-controlled products in the workplace until the (material) safety data sheet has been reviewed and appropriate measures are in place
      • Use WHMIS-related information and training to protect health and safety on the job.
      • Bring to the attention of their supervisors concerns about WHMIS-controlled products [e.g. damaged labels, outdated (material) safety data sheets, defective personal protective equipment, health and safety concerns associated with product use].
      • Create workplace labels when required (e.g. illegible label, decanting product).

D. Joint Health & Safety Committees/Health & Safety Representatives will:

      • As part of their monthly physical inspections, randomly check to verify if WHMIS-controlled products are appropriately labelled and that (material) safety data sheets are available and current.
      • Once a year, in consultation with a management representative(s), review the WHMIS training program and determine the workers’ familiarity with the information. If deficiencies are identified, the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative should recommend retraining employees and/or amending the training program.

E. Corporate Health & Safety Consultants will:

      • Facilitate the development and maintenance of a consistent record-keeping process for WHMIS training.
      • Assist with the delivery of generic WHMIS training via the standard corporate eLearning course.

F. Local Health & Safety Consultants (Service area or Human Resources Occupational Health & Safety) will:

      • Assist divisional staff who arranges purchases (DPO), PMMD staff, joint health and safety committees, workers and supervisors in interpreting (material) safety data sheets.
      • Assist in the development of safe working procedures for use, handling, storage and transport of WHMIS-controlled products.
      • Evaluate health and safety concerns arising from the use of WHMIS-controlled products and recommend solutions, in consultation with occupational hygiene consultants when needed.
      • Provide, or facilitate provision of, WHMIS training for those potentially exposed to WHMIS-controlled products.

G. City staff who purchase WHMIS-controlled products (without a tender or using a DPO) or will:

      • When a product that contains no WHMIS-controlled ingredients is available and can meet the operational need, select the non-WHMIS-controlled product.
      • Before purchasing a WHMIS-controlled product, request a copy of the (material) safety data sheet from the supplier, and if necessary consult with an occupational hygiene/ health and safety consultant regarding the contents and safe use of the product.
      • If a WHMIS-controlled product is necessary, seek a product of low toxicity and with minimal need for additional protective measures, whenever possible.
      • Unless absolutely necessary, purchase WHMIS-controlled products that do not contain:
      • Substances designated by regulation under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
      • Substances identified as carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 1 by the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)
      • Substances identified as confirmed human carcinogens as listed in category A1 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
      • Hygienists (ACGIH)
      • Substances identified as probably carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 2A by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
      • Substances identified as suspected human carcinogens as listed in category A2 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
      • Hygienists (ACGIH)
      • Refer to Appendix A for a list of the above substances.
      • Review and store the (material) safety data sheets for all WHMIS-controlled products to be used.
      • Accept delivery of WHMIS-controlled products from suppliers only if appropriately labelled and accompanied by a (material) safety data sheet, unless a current (material) safety data sheet is available at the workplace.

H. Staff responsible for Divisional Purchase Orders (DPO) will:

      • Specify that if a product is available that contains no WHMIS-controlled ingredients and can meet the operational need, the non-WHMIS-controlled product should be provided.
      • If a WHMIS-controlled product is necessary to meet the operational need, specify a product of low toxicity and with minimal need for additional protective measures, whenever possible.
      • When purchasing WHMIS-controlled products under a DPO, require that all perspective vendors submit a (material) safety data sheet with their bid, and that the (material) safety data sheet includes all information required by the federal Hazardous Products Regulations under the
      • Hazardous Products Act.
      • Require the successful bidder to provide all WHMIS-related information and make said information available to the City as a hardcopy and where requested or applicable, in an Adobe™ electronic format .pdf document.
      • Consult with an occupational hygiene/ health and safety consultant regarding the contents and safe use of new products.
      • Specify in the DPO, that a supplier or distributor must ensure that any shipment of WHMIS-controlled products provided to City of Toronto workplaces are appropriately labelled (as required by the Hazardous Products Regulations).
      • Unless requested by the staff who is requesting the purchase, specify in the DPO, that products must not contain any of the following:
      • Substances designated by regulation under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
      • Substances identified as carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 1 by the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)
      • Substances identified as confirmed human carcinogens as listed in category A1 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
      • Hygienists (ACGIH)
      • Substances identified as probably carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 2A by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
      • Substances identified as suspected human carcinogens as listed in category A2 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
      • Hygienists (ACGIH)
      • Refer to Appendix A for a list of the above substances.

I1.Purchasing & Materials Management (Purchasing) staff will:

      • Specify that if a product is available that contains no WHMIS-controlled ingredients and can meet the operational need, the non-WHMIS-controlled product should be provided.
      • If a WHMIS-controlled product is necessary to meet the operational need, specify a product of low toxicity and with minimal need for additional protective measures, whenever possible.
      • When issuing corporate call documents for WHMIS-controlled products, require perspective bidders to submit a (material) safety data sheet with their bid that includes all information required by the federal Hazardous Products Regulations under the federal Hazardous Products Act.
      • Consult with an occupational hygiene/ health and safety consultant regarding the contents and safe use of new products.
      • Unless requested by the staff requesting the purchase, specify in the corporate call documents including Requests for Quotation (RFQ), Requests for Proposals (RFP), Expressions of Interest (EOI), that products must not contain any of the following:
        • Substances designated by regulation under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
        • Substances identified as carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 1 by the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)
        • Substances identified as confirmed human carcinogens as listed in category A1 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
        • Substances identified as probably carcinogenic to humans as listed in group 2A by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
        • Substances identified as suspected human carcinogens as listed in category A2 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
        • Refer to Appendix A for a list of the above substances.
      • all WHMIS-related information and make said information available to the City as a hardcopy document, and where requested or applicable, in an Adobe™ electronic format .pdf document.
      • Specify in corporate call documents that a supplier or distributor must ensure that any shipment of WHMIS-controlled products provided to City of Toronto workplaces are appropriately labelled (as required by the Hazardous Products Regulations). This includes labelling all individual containers provided in a bulk shipment and including a (material) safety data sheet with all shipments.

I2. Purchasing and Material Management (Stores) staff will:

      • Review and store the (material) safety data sheets for all WHMIS-controlled products stored in PMMD warehouses.
      • Accept delivery of WHMIS-controlled products from distributors only if the products are appropriately labelled and accompanied by a (material) safety data sheet.
      • Only release appropriately labelled WHMIS-controlled products from PMMD warehouses.

J. Staff who request Contracted Services will:

      • Before requesting a contracted service, obtain copies of any (material) safety data sheets from the contractor for the product(s) to be used and make them available to staff as requested.
      • Review the (material) safety data sheet to determine whether the use of the product(s) will generate any occupant health and safety concerns. If so, consider control measures (e.g. using an alternate product, scheduling work after hours or on weekends, increasing or shutting off ventilation) to eliminate or minimize staff exposure. If necessary review with applicable Human Resource safety consultants.
      • Require contractors to have current and legible (material) safety data sheets on site when WHMIS-controlled products may be used.
      • Advise City employees in advance of any contracted work involving the use of chemicals, so that sensitive individuals may be accommodated.
      • Require contractors ensure that all WHMIS-controlled products are adequately labelled.

K. Staff who arrange for Contracted Services will:

      • Ensure that WHMIS-related information is requested in the contracted service agreement and is made available by contractors to divisions as a hard copy document, and where requested or applicable in an Adobe™ electronic format .pdf document.
      • Require that the contract service agreement makes provisions for control measures (e.g. scheduling work after hours, increasing or shutting off ventilation) to eliminate or minimize staff exposure.
      • Require contractors ensure that all WHMIS-controlled products are adequately labelled.

Authority

Occupational Health and Safety Act (R.S.O. 1990, c. 0.1)
WHMIS Regulation (R.R.O., Reg. 860)

Approved by

Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), February 7, 2006
City Manager, June 8, 2006

Date Approved

June 8, 2006

OHSCC Reviewed

June 20, 2017

Related links

Occupational Health and Safety Act (R.S.O. 1990, c. 0.1)
WHMIS Regulation (R.R.O., Reg. 860)