If hazardous materials are present in a workplace, the employer, in consultation with the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, must establish and maintain an effective Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) program.
WHMIS provides information about many hazardous materials that may be used or present in the workplace. WHMIS calls such materials “hazardous products,” and these include materials that are flammable, explosive, oxidizing, poisonous, infectious, corrosive or dangerously reactive.
WHMIS’s goal is to reduce the risk of injury or disease by facilitating clear communication of specific health and safety information to employees about hazardous products. The system accomplishes this goal through a labelling process and regulations that require employers to provide and maintain a safety data sheet (“SDS”) for each hazardous products present in the workplace.
In addition, employers must ensure that general WHMIS education, as it pertains to the workplace, is provided to workers concerning:
(a) elements of the WHMIS program;
(b) major hazards of the hazardous products in use in the workplace;
(c) rights and responsibilities of employers and workers, and
(d) content required on labels and SDS’s, and the significance of this information.
The employer must ensure that a worker who works with or in proximity to a hazardous product has access to all hazard information concerning that hazardous product, including any information of which the employer is aware or ought to be aware concerning the use, storage, handling and disposal of that product.
Employers must also ensure that a worker who works with or in proximity to a hazardous product is instructed in the procedures to be followed if the hazardous product is accidentally released into the work environment, as well as any other procedures to be followed in case of an emergency involving a hazardous product.
The instruction in this respect must be specific to the workplace and cover the safe work procedures and emergency response procedures to be used in that workplace. View WHMIS 2015: At Work for more information.
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