Information contained in this section is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific fact situation. For particular questions, users are invited to contact their lawyer and/or the occupational safety and health authority having jurisdiction for their workplace.
Workers have a right-to-know about the hazardous materials (WHMIS "controlled products") with which they work.
WHMIS is a shared responsibility between suppliers, employers and workers. Although workers do not have explicit legal responsibilities under WHMIS legislation, workers do have an obligation to participate in training programs and to take the necessary steps to protect their health and safety, to protect the health and safety of co-workers and to participate in identifying and eliminating risks in the workplace.
WHMIS is implemented through coordinated and interlocking federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) legislation. The FPT agencies responsible for occupational health and safety (OHS) have established WHMIS employer requirements within their respective jurisdictions. In general, employers must ensure that:
Employers have a general obligation to protect workers from all manner of OHS-related hazards in the workplace. For general information concerning employer's WHMIS obligations and a link to the WHMIS employer requirements in each jurisdiction, please see the Employer Requirements page of the national WHMIS Web site.
The WHMIS page of the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Web site provides a summary of WHMIS employer requirements for workplaces under federal jurisdiction
Should you have any questions concerning your employer's obligations to you as a worker, or questions concerning your rights (such as right to participate on your employer's joint OHS committee, refusal of unsafe work) and obligations, please consult the federal, provincial or territorial (OHS) regulatory agency having jurisdiction for your workplace.
Q. What are my employer's general obligations to me as a worker under WHMIS?
A. An employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the program of worker instruction required under the law results in a worker being able to apply the information as needed to protect the worker's health and safety.
Q. Can an employer require that I have a WHMIS certificate as a condition of employment?
A. A number of companies offer generic WHMIS education and provide a "certificate" to customers who have purchased their service. Generic education may suffice in certain workplaces where the worker works in proximity to WHMIS controlled products but does not "handle" nor "use" the products. At present, laws do not explicitly prohibit employers from requiring prospective employees to posses a document indicating that they have had generic WHMIS education as a condition of employment.
Note: WHMIS laws do not require that workers be issued a "certificate", card nor any other document to demonstrate that they have received generic education or site-specific WHMIS training. Neither Health Canada, nor any other regulatory authority, issues WHMIS certificates to workers. If you are interested in replacing a document which indicates that you have received WHMIS education, please contact the party from whom you obtained it.
Q. Is my WHMIS training transferable to a future employer?
A. Generic WHMIS education can apply to any workplace. However, exposure to controlled products will depend on the nature of the work. Thus, the employer must ensure that the employee receives site-specific training that is applicable to the work that the employee is required to perform.
Q. Must I be trained annually?
A. In general, employers must review their WHMIS training programs at least once per year, and more often if
The requirement for review does not mean the re-instruction automatically follows, but does identify any need for updating the program and, consequently re-instructing the workers.
Q. Where can I obtain information about the chemicals that I am handling in my workplace or information concerning the hazards associated with the type of work I do?
A. OHS Answers is an information service provided by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. The information is presented in a question-and-answer format and the topics are based on questions that their enquiries service has received.
All issues related to workers also apply to young workers. However, young and new workers need special attention because they are at more risk of injury than their older or more experienced counterparts.
In one year alone, almost 110,000 young people were seriously injured on the job. Injured young people (ages 15-29) represent one in every four injured workers in Canada (Ref.: http://www.ccohs.ca/youngworkers/)
In British Columbia, WorkSafeBC has put into law specific requirements for young and new workers through amendments to Part 3 of that province's Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) - CCOHS is a federal government agency governed by representatives from labour, government and employers. CCOHS can provide authoritative, chemical-specific and occupational-related information, access to their MSDS database, copies of legislation and regulations, health and safety related publications as well as a number of in-class training courses and the following WHMIS e-courses:
CANOSH - The CANOSH Web site is designed to provide Canadians with a convenient and efficient way to access the health and safety information provided by the federal, provincial and territorial government agencies responsible for OSH, Workers' Compensation Boards and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Job One: The Job-One Web site designed and maintained by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety provides a portal to information targeted to new and young workers. This site links together all of the new and young worker information sites in Canada to help everyone - whether it is your first job, or if you are a parent, employer, or teacher - understand why it is important to work safely.
Young Workers' Zone: "The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety Web site also provides a Young Workers' Zone includes information on the hazards associated with jobs often held by young workers. Guiding young workers in health and safety is essential in order to help reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries, and this site provides some basic steps you can take to train your young workers. This site also provides links to provincial educational programs and health and safety resources targeted to young workers."