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The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) provides information about many hazardous materials used in the workplace. WHMIS calls these hazardous materials controlled products. Under WHMIS, workers have the right to receive information about each controlled product they use---its identity, hazards, and safety precautions.
WHMIS has developed a classification system of six hazard classes. These classes are depicted by eight hazard symbols that identify the specific hazards of controlled products. After a controlled product has been classified, the following three WHMIS elements are used to communicate health and safety information:
WHMIS legislation exists at both the federal and provincial levels. Federal legislation establishes which products are controlled under WHMIS and deals with either the importation or sale of these materials. Under WHMIS, those who manufacture, import, sell, or distribute controlled products are referred to as suppliers.
Provincial legislation covers the use of hazardous materials in the workplace and identifies employers' responsibilities. Workers who work with or near controlled products must know how to handle them safely.
When an employer becomes a supplier
If employers import or produce a controlled product, even if it is for their own use, they are considered to be the supplier of the controlled product. This means they must provide an up-to-date MSDS and attach a supplier label.
|Suppliers||Provide up-to-date MSDSs (not more than 3 years old) for all controlled products they sell or produce.|
|Provide supplier labels on all containers of controlled products they sell or produce.|
|Employers||Ensure that workers understand information on MSDSs, supplier labels, and workplace labels by providing effective worker education.|
|Provide training in specific safe work procedures to workers who work with or near controlled products.|
|Ensure that all containers of controlled products in their workplace have MSDSs and WHMIS labels (supplier labels, workplace labels, or other acceptable means of identification as appropriate).|
|Ensure that MSDSs are readily accessible to workers.|
|Workers||Know and understand the information on labels and MSDSs.|
|Use the information they receive through education and training to handle controlled products safely.|
|Inform employers if labels are illegible or missing.|
|WCB Prevention staff in B.C.||Administer WHMIS legislation.|
|Provide general information about WHMIS to employers and workers.|
|Ensure compliance with both federal and provincial WHMIS legislation.|