Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a
health and safety system through which employers and employees can
easily see and understand important health and safety information
regarding the hazardous materials they handle. According to the
National WHMIS Compliance Policy (from January,
2002), the "key elements of WHMIS are cautionary labelling,
material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and worker education and
In short, the purpose of WHMIS is to increase workplace health
and safety. Compliance, for employers (as opposed to suppliers),
with WHMIS standards has two important facets: workplace labels and
employee education and WHMIS training. WHMIS training is required
annually in some industries, and bi-annually in others.
Every company is required to examine their WHMIS compliance each
and every year. You do not necessarily need to retrain every
employee every year, but it is recommended. An employer is required
"...ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that the
instruction and training provided to a worker results in the worker
being able to apply the information as needed to protect the
worker's health and safety."
Do You or Your Employees Need WHMIS Training?
Depending on the nature of the environment and
industry in which you work, you may or may not require WHMIS
training. For example, in Canada, every school board employee,
every hospital employee, and the majority of employees at
manufacturing plants are required by law to complete WHMIS
WHMIS training is required if you come into contact with
hazardous materials or controlled products at work. If you are an
employee reading this, and you think you might require WHMIS
training but you do not yet have it, you should speak with your
employer about getting WHMIS training and certification.
The responsibility for WHMIS training lies with employers. Each
employer is responsible to make sure that all of his or her
employees have been properly trained. It is up to the employer's
discretion as to how to train his or her staff.
Getting Proper WHMIS Training
Often, WHMIS training is done in a classroom setting. This can
be convenient because everyone is trained at once. However, there
can be issues with this type of WHMIS training. For example, when
reporting your proof of training to the federal government, stating
that 100 employees took their WHMIS training on such and such a
date is not enough prove that the right employees are WHMIS
trained. You would need something like a sign-in sheet to prove
exactly which employees took the training and when. And what
happens if an employee is sick during the classroom WHMIS training?
It wouldn't be cost-effective to bring in an instructor to make up
for a single employee.
One of the advantages of online WHMIS training is that it allows
easy reporting and tracking of every employee who takes the
training. As well, online WHMIS training courses are convenient
because employees can take the training individually, either at
home or at work. When WHMIS training is taken online, there's no
need to worry about finding a time when all employees are free to
take the training course. Our courses are also designed so that you
can log in and out to complete the training over multiple sessions.
Our program keeps track of your progress so you don't have to
retake parts that you have already covered.
This government website has good information on Assessing
Education and WHMIS Training Programs.
RLS Group's games-based online WHMIS training is a fun,
interactive way for workers to learn everything they need know