Beginning in 2015 the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) has been in a state of “transition”. The transition was being done in phases from the old 1988 WHMIS system to the new 2015 system which integrates the Global Harmonized System (GHS).
The transition period ends on November 30, 2018 and all employers are required to train and transition employees to WHMIS 2015 by no later than December 1, 2018.
Difference Between WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015
The new WHMIS 2015 has a few upgrades, including new safety label requirements such as additional classifications, signal words (“warning” or “danger”).
There are also updated material safety data sheets (MSDS), now called “safety data sheets” or “SDS” and some new hazard symbols:
Employers’ Duties Under WHMIS 2015
When a hazardous product is being used in a workplace, as is the case in dental offices, it is the employer’s duty to do the following:
- educate / train workers on the WHMIS 2015 system
- educate / train workers on the hazards and use of the product
- ensure proper labeling
- prepare labels, as needed
- prepare or maintain SDS labels and provide access to employees
- ensure protective measures for employees using hazardous materials (i.e. eyewash station, personal protective equipment, fire extinguishers, etc.)
When implementing employee training on WHMIS and workplace specific hazards, we recommend logging that training in case of an inspection.
Inspections and WHMIS 2015
If an inspector comes to your dental practice, you should be prepared to do the following:
- show that you have a WHMIS 2015 program in place
- show that staff are trained on WHMIS 2015 (including allowing inspectors to speak with employees regarding their knowledge and training)
- show the inspector where the SDS are kept
- show that all hazardous materials are properly labeled under WHMIS 2015
If you need legal advice about WHMIS 2015 or other employment law matters, please contact us.