WHAT IS WHMIS?
The workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) is Canada’s national hazard communication standard, which is designed to prevent death, illness and injury, related to workplace chemicals through the communication of relevant information, and to ensure Canada is a country where workplace chemicals are used safely.
The objective of WHMIS is to ensure the protection of Canadian workers from the adverse effects of hazardous materials, through the provision of relevant information, while minimizing the economic impact on industry, and the disruption of trade.
CLASS D2 – MATERIALS CAUSING OTHER TOXIC EFFECTS
Chronic or Long Term Materials Causing Other Toxic Effects
CLASS D3 – BIOHAZARDOUS INFECTIOUS MATERIALS
Biohazardous Infectious Materials
CLASS C – OXIDIZING MATERIALS
The controlled products in this class are materials which can cause other materials to burn or support combustion by yielding oxygen or any other oxidizing substance, whether or not the product, material or substance is itself combustible.
WHMIS Class B - Flammable and Combustible Material, is comprised of six Divisions:
•Division 1 - Flammable Gases
•Division 2 - Flammable Liquids
•Division 3 - Combustible Liquids
•Division 4 - Flammable Solids
•Division 5 - Flammable Aerosols
•Division 6 - Reactive Flammable Materials
KEY ELEMENTS OF WHMIS
- Cautionary labelling of containers of WHMIS “controlled products”.
- Provision of safety data sheets (SDSs) formerly known as material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
- Worker education and training programs.
When you hear the fire alarm: Fire Alarm Tips
1. Evacuate the building via the nearest exit.
2. Do NOT use elevators.
3. Keep clear of the building to permit emergency access.
4. Do not re-enter until authorized by Fire Officer.
1. It is MANDATORY to be evacuated during any fire alarm. Call 911
2. Attempt to extinguish the fire only if you can do so safely.
3. Familiarize yourself with the location of fire exits and fire extinguishers in your area.
Fire Emergency Procedures for Mobility-Impaired Persons
When the Fire Alarm sounds, do the following:
1. If on the ground floor, exit by the normal means.
2. If above or below the ground floor:
3. Call the 911 dispatcher that the fire alarm in your building is sounding and you are mobility impaired and cannot leave your floor area. If you smell smoke, or are in immediate danger, inform the dispatcher.
4. Give your exact location, including floor and room number.
5. Give your phone number from which you are calling. Your information will be relayed to emergency response personnel who are en route or on scene. Hamilton Fire Services will facilitate your evacuation if your safety is compromised.
6. Remain by the phone. In the conditions at your location deteriorate (any increased danger or hazard), call the dispatcher immediately with an update.
CLASS E – CORROSIVE MATERIALS
The controlled products in this class are materials which can corrode substances such as steel, aluminum, and skin. Corrosive materials may also cause visible necrosis to human skin tissue or be an untested mixture which may contain a corrosive material in a concentration of at least one per cent.
CLASS D1 – POISONOUS & INFECTIOUS MATERIALS
Poisonous and Infectious Materials includes the greatest number of criteria of any of the classes. The criteria have been grouped into three divisions, each of which describe a different type of hazard and require a different symbol.
Indoor Air Quality
All jurisdictions in Canada include the general duty clause that requires employers to provide a healthy and safe workplace. This includes the provision of healthy indoor air. In addition, indoor air quality is implied in most building codes as design and operation criteria. Common issues associated with air quality include: improper or poorly maintained heating and ventilation systems; contamination by construction materials, glues, fibre glass, particle boards, paints and chemicals; and an increase in number of building occupants and time spent indoors.
Poor indoor air quality can lead to dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity and allergies, sinus congestion, coughing and sneezing, dizziness, and nausea. People generally notice their symptoms after several hours at work and feel better after they have left the building or when they have been away from the building for a weekend or a vacation.
WHMIS first became law in 1988 through a series of complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations. WHMIS was developed by a tripartite steering committee with representatives from government, industry and labour, to ensure that the best interests of everyone were considered. This system is now called WHMIS 1988.
Effective February 2015, WHMIS has aligned with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals, through amendments to the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and regulations. These updates to implement GHS is called WHMIS 2015. This means, suppliers may begin to use and follow the new requirements for labels and SDSs for hazardous products sold, distributed, or imported into Canada. It also means federal, provincial, and territorial occupational health and safety WHMIS regulations will also need updating.
CLASS F – DANGEROUSLY REACTIVE MATERIALS
The controlled products in this class are materials which undergo vigorous polymerization, decomposition or condensation; become self-reactive under conditions of shock or increase in pressure or temperature; or react vigorously with water to release a gas.
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