WHMIS 1988 - Labels


Section 13 of the  Hazardous Products Act (HPA) places a legal requirement on the Canadian supplier of a WHMIS controlled product "intended for use in a Canadian work place" to apply a label disclosing prescribed information as a condition of sale. Section 14 of the HPA places a legal requirement on the Canadian importer of a controlled product to apply a label as a condition of importation. Section 23 of the  Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) sets out the requirements for an imported controlled product that is to be labelled or repackaged in Canada.

The term "label" is defined in section 11 of the HPA and includes "any mark, sign, device, stamp, seal, sticker, ticket, tag or wrapper".

Section 19 of the CPR gives the information that must be disclosed on a label.

Special Provisions

The categories of products which are not subject to the supplier MSDS and label requirements of the HPA are specified in section 12 of the HPA. Certain special provisions ("exemptions") for labels for products which are subject to the HPA are specified in the CPR.

Table - Special provisions
Special provision As it relates to ... Section of CPR
bulk shipments definition of; manner of transmitting label information 2(2); 15 and 18
importation exemption from labelling 23

labelling of outer versus inner containers / Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations

laboratory samples definition of; ingredient disclosure 2(1); 16
laboratory supply house hazard symbols and label border 17 and 20(2)
small quantity (100 ml) risk statements, precautionary statements and first aid measures 19(1)(e)
supplier identifier identifier to be disclosed 19(4) and (5)
symbols disclosure of the "skull and cross-bones" versus the toxic "T" symbol 19(5)
trade secret product and supplier identifier 19(2)

Language Requirements

Within WHMIS hatched border - Labels must be in both English and French (CPR subsection 24(3)). Information in both languages may be within one WHMIS border or the English and French information may be within two separate WHMIS borders. When separate WHMIS borders are used for each language, hazard symbols must be depicted on each label. Neither the HPA nor CPR preclude the use of other languages within the border.

Outside of WHMIS hatched border - The language(s) of non-prescribed information is outside of the scope of the HPA.


The following is an example of an acceptable format for a WHMIS supplier label:

NOTE: To save the high resolution label border image file, hold the Shift key down while clicking on the link. A "Save As" pop-up window will appear, enabling the user to specify the location of the file; 399kb, dimensions: 4.25x3.25in, 600dpi.

Product Identifier

WHMIS sample supplier label enclosed within the required right-angled "hatched" border encompassing headings of required information, (i.e., product identifier, supplier identifier, statement that a MSDS is available, risk phrases, precautionary measures and first aid measures) and depicting two hazard symbols: a stylized "T" denoting chronic toxicity and a stylized "R" denoting chemical reactivity.

Product Identifier

Label Elements

Table - Label Elements
Element As it relates to ... Section of CPR
design border and placement of label on container 20
durability requirement for 21(2)
first aid measures disclosure of 19(1)(e)(iii)
information disclosure containers > 100 ml in volume 19(1)(a) to (e)
ingredient disclosure disclosure on label not required
language use of English and French 24(3)
legibility requirement for 21(1)
precautionary measures disclosure of 19(1)(e)(ii)
product identifier definition of; identifier disclosed on MSDS 2(1); 28
revisions time frames 29
risk phrases definition of; disclosure of 2(1); 19(1)(e)(i)
symbols colour; reproduction of 22; 28 and Schedule II
trade secret substitute information 26 and 27

Standardized Wording

Specifically worded risk phrases, precautionary measures and first aid statements have not been prescribed by the CPR.

Labelling for Transportation

In addition to label requirements in the HPA and CPR, a supplier who transports WHMIS controlled products may also be subject to the  Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and its regulations.

Labelling of Diagnostic Specimens

Please refer to the Hazard Specific Issues - Biohazards page of this website and to the WHMIS Reference Manual.

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