WHMIS, the acronym for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is often misspelled.
WHIMIS, WHIMS, WIMIS, WHIMISS are just a few of the variations accidently used. Whether you remember the acronym or not, it is imperative that you understand it's purpose!
WHMIS is a comprehensive system for providing health and safety information on hazardous products intended for use, handling, or storage in Canadian workplaces.
WHMIS has aligned with the worldwide hazard communication system known as GHS - the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Aligning with GHS provides many benefits, including:
In order to assist workplaces, WHMIS was designed to help them fulfill their obligation to workers and inform them of potential health and safety hazards associated with the materials and chemicals involved in the workplace. While not all chemicals are hazardous, those that are can contribute to serious health issues.
Health issues can include effects on the respiratory system, nervous system as well as cause sterility, cancer, burns and rashes. Some hazardous materials are also flammable or explosive.
If workers are using or coming in contact with any of these dangerous chemicals, they ALL NEED to be informed. WHMIS helps to prevent injuries, illness or death associated with working with these chemicals.
WHMIS 2015 introduces the new GHS symbols, referred to as Pictograms. They are graphic images that immediately show what type of hazard is present that the user of a hazardous product should be made aware of.
For example: At a quick glance, one can see, that the product is flammable, or if it might be a health hazard.
Most pictograms have a distinctive red "square set on one of its points" border, often referred to as a 'diamond' shape. Inside this border is a symbol that represents the potential hazard (e.g., fire, health hazard, corrosive, etc.).
Together, the symbol and the border are referred to as a pictogram. Pictograms are assigned to specific hazard classes or categories.
The graphic at the top of this article is showing the WHMIS 2015 hazard pictograms.
~ The bold type is the name given to the pictogram; the words in the brackets describe the hazard.
*The GHS system also defines an Environmental hazards group. This group (and its classes) was not adopted in WHMIS 2015. However, you may see the environmental classes listed on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). Including information about environmental hazards is allowed by WHMIS 2015.
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