Health and Safety

Why You Need to Comply With WHMIS

March 5, 2024

Complying with WHMIS

Every organization in Canada needs to comply with WHMIS and its requirements in their jurisdiction. A noncompliant organization exposes itself to fines, legal liabilities, costly lawsuits, reputation loss, and even an operational shutdown. Under all jurisdiction-specific WHMIS legislation, employers are responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining a WHMIS education and training program for their workers. Employers also have responsibilities related to providing all hazard information relating to products used in the workplace to their employees, ensuring all labels and safety data sheets are accurate and legible, and reviewing these materials periodically to ensure content is up to date and relevant. It is crucial for all employers to review the legislation in their jurisdiction to ensure they comply with WHMIS. 

Why are WHMIS compliance and training important? 

WHMIS training is essential because it protects employees, helps organizations comply with jurisdictional WHMIS compliance requirements, and equips workers with the knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to emergencies. In Canada, workplace safety is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Every Canadian employer must ensure that their workers receive the proper training and education so that they can safely work with any hazardous products they might encounter, and employees have a duty to attend all required training and always work in a way that keeps everyone in the workplace safe. 

Who is responsible for educating and training workers? 

Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their workers by educating and training them on the hazards, safe use, and storage of hazardous products. By following the requirements of WHMIS, employers can ensure that dangerous products are correctly labelled, and that safety data sheets (SDSs) are updated as required. SDSs provide additional information to users about product hazards not included on the product label, such as their physical and toxicological composition, safe usage, symptoms of exposure, and emergency procedures, among other details. Employers have a responsibility to ensure their workers understand the information provided on SDSs, as well as how related information is conveyed on product labels, and what all this information means. 

It is essential to use different methods of communication to ensure all employees are aware of the risks associated with any hazardous products they may encounter while working. These methods should include regular safety training, displaying SDSs, safety posters, and publications in common areas, sending regular safety update e-mails, and providing updates during meetings to remind employees of things like the location of SDSs or any updates to hazardous products and their storage and handling procedures. By following the WHMIS guidelines and providing up-to-date training and education throughout the year, employers create a safe and healthy work environment where their employees can thrive. 

How long does WHMIS training last? 

Legislation does not specify a period of validity for WHMIS training. However, employers are responsible for reviewing their broader WHMIS programs annually, and training and worker education should be a focus of these reviews. It is also common for employees to receive WHMIS refresher training and on-the-job WHMIS education throughout the year. Additionally, WHMIS training is legislatively required when there is a change in workplace conditions or whenever new information about a hazardous product becomes available. Ultimately, no matter when an employee last completed a formal WHMIS training course, all employers have a responsibility to continually ensure that all employees are aware and knowledgeable of how to safely work with all hazardous products they may encounter in the workplace. This means that providing regular training and education, reviewing real and potential hazards, and ensuring employees always understand how to work safely are important considerations for maintaining compliance with WHMIS. 

If you find it challenging to find the time to review and update elements of your current WHMIS program as often as you need, we can help. Book a free demo to see our catalogue of immersive and traditional WHMIS training courses designed for organizations of all sizes in all industries. Remember, the risk of incidents and worker injuries increase when training and education are not prioritized, and this heightened risk can expose employers to noncompliance.  

Concerned about WHMIS compliance? 

If you are considering updating your organization’s WHMIS training program and aren’t sure where to begin, why not prioritize safety training and compliance with expert guidance? Our HR experts will ensure your WHMIS training program is up-to-date, compliant, and effectively implemented from our secure online platform. Book a free demo to see whether one of our competitively priced HRIS and LMS packages fits your online WHMIS training goals. 


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