Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS)

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System or WHMIS can be defined as such:

  • WHM’ stands for Workplace Hazardous Material:Hazardous products used in the workplace that can harm people or damage property.
  • ‘I’ stands for Information: A collection of data on each controlled product detailing its hazardous nature.
  • ‘S’ stands for System: Procedures and guidelines set by Worksafe BC and maintained by the employer.

WHMIS is a program that provides information about many hazardous materials used in the workplace. Under WHMIS these hazardous materials are referred to as ‘hazardous products’. Workers have the right to receive information about each controlled product they use: its identity, hazards and safety precautions.

Click here to view or download the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System PDF.

Key Elements of WHMIS

1. Education and Training, Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, employees must be trained:

  • On the application of the WHMIS Requirements.
  • How to read SDS and obtain critical information.
  • Type of information found on WHMIS Labels.

2. Use of WHMIS Labels:Supplier Labels

  • Product name
  • Hazard symbol
  • Risk phrases
  • Precautionary measures
  • Supplier identifier
  • Reference to SDS

Workplace Labels: Product name

  • Safe handling procedures
  • Reference to SDS

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) - Symbols

1. The flame pictogram is used for FLAMMABLE PRODUCTS including:

  • Flammable gases, aerosols, liquids and solids
  • Pyrophoric liquids, solids and gases
  • Self-heating substances and mixtures
  • Substances and mixtures which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
  • Self-reactive substances and mixtures
  • Organic peroxides

2. The flame over circle pictogram is used for OXIDIZING PRODUCTS including:

  • Oxidizing gases
  • Oxidizing liquids
  • Oxidizing solids

3. The gas cylinder pictogram is used for GASES UNDER PRESSURE including:

i) Compressed gas, ii) Liquefied gas, iii) Refrigerated liquefied gas, iv) Dissolved gas

4. The corrosion pictogram is used for CORROSIVE HAZARDS including:

  • Corrosive to metals
  • Skin corrosion/irritation
  • Serious eye damage/eye irritation

5. The exploding bomb pictogram is used for EXPLODING/REACTIVE HAZARDS including:

  • Self-reactive substances and mixtures
  • Organic peroxides

6. The skull and crossbones pictogram is used for DEATH/TOXICITY HAZARDS including:

  • Death or acute toxicity - i) Oral, ii) Dermal, iii) Inhalation

7. The health hazard pictogram is used for SERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS including:

  • Respiratory or skin sensitization
  • Germ cell mutation
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Specific Target Organ Toxicity
  • Aspiration hazard

8. The exclamation mark pictogram is used for LESS SERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS including:

  • Acute toxicity - Oral, Dermal, Inhalation
  • Skin corrosion/irritation
  • Serious eye damage/eye irritation
  • Respiratory or skin sensitization
  • Specific target organ toxicity

9. The biohazardous infectious materials pictogram is used for BIO-HAZARDOUS INFECTIOUS MATERIALS.

SDS Section and Heading


Specific Information Elements

  • Product identifier (e.g. Product name)
  • Other means of identification (e.g. product family, synonyms, etc.)
  • Recommended use
  • Restrictions on use
  • Canadian supplier identifier+
  • Name, full address and phone number(s)
  • Emergency telephone number and any restrictions on the use of that number, if applicable

Hazard identification

Specific Information Elements

  • Hazard classification (class, category) of substance or mixture or a description of the identified hazard for Physical or Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified
  • Label elements:
    • Symbol (image) or the name of the symbol (e.g., flame, skull and crossbones)
    • Signal word
    • Hazard statement(s)
    • Precautionary statement(s)
  • Other hazards which do not result in classification (e.g., molten metal hazard)

Composition / Information on ingredients

  • When a hazardous product is a material or substance:
    • Chemical name
    • Common name and synonyms
    • Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registry number and any unique identifiers
    • Chemical name of impurities, stabilizing solvents and/or additives*
  • For each material or substance in a mixture that is classified in a health hazard class**:
    • Chemical name
    • Common name and synonyms
    • CAS registry number and any unique identifiers
    • Concentration

NOTE: Confidential business information rules can apply.

First-aid measures

  • First-aid measures by route of exposure:
    • Inhalation
    • Skin contact
    • Eye contact
    • Ingestion
  • Most important symptoms and effects (acute or delayed)
  • Immediate medical attention and special treatment, if necessary.

Fire-fighting measures

  • Suitable extinguishing media
  • Unsuitable extinguishing media
  • Specific hazards arising from the hazardous product, (e.g., hazardous combustion products)
  • Special protective equipment and precautions for fire-fighters

Accidental release measures

  • Personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures
  • Methods and materials for containment

Handling and storage

  • Precautions for safe handling
  • Conditions for safe storage (including incompatible materials)

Exposure controls / Personal protection

  • Control parameters, including occupational exposure guidelines or biological exposure limits and the source of those values
  • Appropriate engineering controls
  • Individual protection measures, e.g. personal protective equipment.

Physical and chemical properties

  • Appearance (physical state, colour, etc.)
  • Odour
  • Odour threshold
  • pH
  • Melting point/Freezing point
  • Initial boiling point/boiling range
  • Flash point
  • Evaporation rate
  • Flammability (solid; gas)
  • Lower flammable/explosive limit
  • Upper flammable/explosive limit
  • Vapour pressure
  • Vapour density
  • Relative density
  • Solubility
  • Partition coefficient - n-octanol/water
  • Auto-ignition temperature
  • Decomposition temperature
  • Viscosity

Stability and reactivity

  • Reactivity
  • Chemical stability
  • Possibility of hazardous reactions
  • Conditions to avoid, (e.g., static discharge, shock, or vibration)
  • Incompatible materials
  • Hazardous decomposition products

Toxicological information

Concise but complete description of the various toxic health effects and the data used to identify those effects, including:

  • Information on the likely routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact)
  • Symptoms related to the physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics
  • Delayed and immediate effects, and chronic effects from short-term and long-term exposure
  • Numerical measures of toxicity

Ecological information***

  • Ecotoxicity
  • Persistence and degradability
  • Bio accumulative potential
  • Mobility in soil
  • Other adverse effects

Disposal considerations***

  • Information on safe handling for disposal and methods of disposal, including any contaminated packaging

Transport information***

  • UN number
  • UN proper shipping name
  • Transport hazard class(es)
  • Packing group
  • Environmental hazards
  • Transport in bulk, if applicable
  • Special precautions

Regulatory information***

  • Safety, health and environmental regulations specific to the product

Other information

  • Date of the latest revision of the SDS
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