Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

Definition - What does Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) mean?

The workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) is the national hazard communication standard of Canada. This system was enacted as part of Canada's federal Hazardous Products Act, and is designed to provide uniform standards for the communication of information about hazardous substances.

Pursuant to the WHMIS program, designated products must be properly labeled and have a material safety data sheet (MSDS). A MSDS includes information about a specific substance, including the hazards associated with the substance. In addition to identifing the risks associated with the substance, the MSDS will also include information to help ensure safe handling of the material and what to do in the event of an accidental exposure. Workplaces in which the products will be used must also provide appropriate safety training and education for workers.

WorkplaceTesting explains Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

Most countries have a program similar to Canada's workplace hazard materials information system (WHMIS) to ensure that hazardous chemicals and other products are properly identified. In the United States for example, these guidelines are provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard.

In 2014, Canada elected to begin use of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS will replace the current system to allow Canada, along with other participating nations, to use a single set of standards for communicating about hazardous substances. The United States is also taking steps to begin using the GHS as its standard for materials safety data communication.

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