WHMIS Quick Facts - What is WHMIS?

ISBN: 0-662-36777-4
Cat. No.: H46-2/04-348E

As a worker, you have the right to know about the hazards of chemicals used in your workplace. To support your right to know, laws across Canada require chemical suppliers and your employer to provide you with information about hazardous products and how to protect yourself. WHMIS applies to products specifically for use in workplaces.


Controlled products from Canadian suppliers display a WHMIS label like the one shown below. In addition to the hazard symbols, a WHMIS supplier label identifies the product and lists hazards,precautions, and first aid measures. Additional information is provided on the MSDS.

Workplace labels are required on portable containers in the workplace.

Sample Supplier Label

Hazard Classes / Symbols

Hazard symbols appear on product containers as a visual alert. Products are classified by the supplier to identify hazardous properties such as toxicity, flammability and reactivity. A product that has hazardous properties, is called a controlled product, and one or more WHMIS symbols must appear on the product label.These eight symbols alert you immediately to a product's potential hazards.

A - Compressed Gas
D2 - Other Toxic Effects
B - Flammable / Combustible
D3 - Biohazardous
C - Oxidizing
E - Corrosive
D1 - Immediate and Serious Toxic Effects
F - Dangerously Reactive

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

Material Safety Data Sheets are provided by the supplier to give users detailed information about the hazards and safe use of products. Before using any product for the first time review the MSDS for information on health effects, fire hazards, handling, storage, and personal protection.

Education and Training

If you work with,or may be exposed to,hazardous materials at your workplace, you must be trained. WHMIS training has two aspects:

  1. Education - understanding the principles of WHMIS,and the meaning of the information on labels and MSDSs, and
  2. Training - workplace-specific training on how to apply this information to materials in actual use at your workplace, including: procedures for storage, handling, disposal, and personal protection.

The employer is responsible to ensure that workers have been appropriately trained.

For additional information and resources visit www.whmis.gc.ca and/or www.ccohs.ca

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