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Update - WHMIS 2015

Many of our members are reporting they’re getting calls and emails from online training companies, regarding the new 2015 WHMIS regulations. We urge caution. Please, read the information below. This is a bit of a read, however it will save you time and money.

WHMIS, Canada’s national workplace hazardous products information system has changed to align with the rest of the world. The new WHMIS will be referred to as WHMIS 2015. The original WHMIS was introduced in 1988, you will see references to both WHMIS 1988 and the new WHMIS which will be known as WHMIS 2015.

New federal legislation was introduced on February 11, 2015, bringing WHMIS 2015 into effect.

There is lots of confusion around the new legislation, many online WHMIS training companies are not telling the entire truth about the WHMIS 2015 legislation.

The Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association wants to help reduce the confusion so you the employer will better understand how this change to WHMIS 2015 will affect you and your business.

Many online WHMIS 2015 training companies are stating the regulations have changed, this is true, the new federal legislation was introduced February 11, 2015.

Those same online WHMIS 2015 companies also state that as employers you must update your WHMIS to WHMIS 2015, this is true as well.

Where things get a little confusing, is the online WHMIS 2015 training companies do not tell you there is a three year transition window , allowing suppliers, distributors and employers time to create training, education and transition plans. Many online WHMIS 2015 companies want you the employer to take their online training course they are offering, with promises this will bring you into compliance with the new legislation.

Please see below for the official transition time table for FULL transition to WHMIS 2015

A few other things that are not stated with some online WHMIS 2015 training companies:

WHMIS 1988 & WHMIS 2015 must be workplace specific !

Example: A transportation worker will not receive the same WHMIS 2015 training as a laboratory worker. A nurse will not receive the same the WHMIS 2015 training as a mechanic.

The hazardous products are not the same in those workplaces for a nurse, mechanic, laboratory worker or transportation worker we used in our examples.

WHMIS 2015 training needs to be workplace specific to the job performed in the workplace.

The employer must train all workers on the hazardous products in your workplace.

As you can see by our examples, WHMIS 2015 needs to be specific to the job. From our examples each of those workers would face different hazardous products in their jobs, thus the requirement for job specific WHMIS 2015 training.

WHMIS 2015 is not a one size fits all, its very important to have specific work place training, the worker must know and understand the hazardous products used in their own workplace.

The online WHMIS 2015 training companies also make the statement that ALL workplaces must have training on WHMIS 2015, again that is not 100 % accurate. There are some workplaces that will not use ANY hazardous products in their workplace.

If any products used in the workplace have these symbols shown on the supplier label on the product containers in your workplace you will require WHMIS 2015 training

We hope this information will be useful in helping you assess if you need WHMIS 2015 training. Many workplaces will require specific WHMIS 2015 training, not a generic online course. There will be a few workplaces that will not require WHMIS 2015.

If you have any questions please feel free to contract us by email or toll free at (888) 329-9660, we are here to answer your questions.

At the very bottom of this page is a table showing dates to to FULL implementation to WHMIS 2015 for suppliers, distributors and employers in Canada.

Here is additional information about the changes from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015.

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) provides information on the safe use of hazardous products in Canadian workplaces. WHMIS hasn’t been replaced, instead, it’s been updated to reflect elements of the United Nations initiative called the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The updated WHMIS program aligns Canada’s hazard classification and communication requirements with those used by the United States and other major trading partners around the world. For the sake of clarity, the original WHMIS is now referred to as WHMIS 1988, the updated version is called WHMIS 2015. Federal WHMIS legislation came into effect on February 11, 2015 to align WHMIS with the GHS, going forward it will be referred to as WHMIS 2015.

In the province of Nova Scotia, here is the guidance from the newsletter from Department of Labour & Advanced Education

Employers should be aware that new supplier labels are in the market place. Under both federal and provincial regulations state the employer is responsible to train employees for all hazards and any changes in hazards in the workplace. During the transition period referenced in the new federal legislation, suppliers of “hazardous products” will be allowed to comply with either the old system (WHMIS 1988) or the new (WHMIS 2015). All suppliers must provide product information in compliance with WHMIS 2015 by June 2018.

Due to the supplier transition provisions contained in the federal legislation, Nova Scotia employers must proceed as follows:

1. If there are no products with WHMIS 2015 safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels in the workplace, the employer continues to comply with WHMIS 1988 requirements.

2. If the employer receives a product that has an SDS and label complying with WHMIS 2015, they must comply with the WHMIS 2015 requirements. This includes, but is not limited to: a) Training under Section 4 of WHMIS including content consistent with WHMIS 2015 for SDSs and labels for workers who may be exposed to hazardous products. b) Acquiring up to date SDS’s. The employer is not required to ensure the SDS is within three years of its latest revision as this requirement has been removed in WHMIS 2015 for suppliers. However, since suppliers must update SDS’s as soon as significant information becomes available, an employer, must ensure they are provided with the most current version of the supplier SDS each time a hazardous product is purchased.

3. If the employer receives a product that complies with WHMIS 2015, and their employees are not yet trained on WHMIS 2015, they may store the product until such time as they have completed the WHMIS 2015 training as per section 3(2) of the current WHMIS regulations. Where an employer has products that meet both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 in the workplace, the employer must comply with both systems concurrently. This includes ensuring workers have either Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s) or SDS’s readily available, hazardous products are labeled and employees are educated and trained. Training regarding safe use, storage, handling and disposal is the same in both old WHMIS 1988 and the new WHMIS 2015. The differences in education will be around the content and significance of the label and new information on SDS’s.

What’s changing in WHMIS 2015

What’s staying the same in WHMIS 2015:

The current roles and responsibilities of suppliers, employers, and workers remain unchanged in WHMIS 2015.

Suppliers, manufacturers, importers, and distributors:

  • Classify hazardous products

  • Prepare and provide labels and SDS’s to customers


  • Ensure that all hazardous products are properly labelled

  • Make SDS’s readily available to workers

  • Prepare workplace labels and SDS’s as necessary

  • Provide worker education and training

  • Ensure appropriate control measures to protect the health and safety of workers


  • Participate in WHMIS training programs

  • Take necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers

  • Participate in identifying and controlling hazards

Transitioning from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 Health Canada announced on February 11, 2015 that the revised Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and the new Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) which regulate suppliers (importers, manufacturers, and distributors), are now law in Canada. The HPR set out specific hazard classification criteria. If a product covered by the HPA meets the criteria to be included in a hazard class or category, it is considered to be a “hazardous product”. To allow time for suppliers, employers, and workers to adjust to the new WHMIS 2015 requirements, a 3 year transition plan is in effect.

During the transition period, both the original WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 may be used in the workplace.

Transition Table to FULL implementation of WHMIS 2015


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