After more than 25 years, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) has been updated! Canada has adopted the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as a classification and labelling system for chemical substances. GHS ensures that countries adopting this system will use the same symbols and risk phrases and provide the same hazard information to front-line users of chemical products.

In short, GHS is a standardization of international hazard communication systems. Having many different systems for the classification and labelling of chemical products worldwide can create confusion, increase expenses related to enforcement and responsibility and ultimately, reduce worker safety.

It is important to note that these new provisions do not replace WHMIS; rather, they augment the existing WHMIS training. Training is mandatory for all persons working at uOttawa (as well as some students, visitors, volunteers, etc.).

Brief history

GHS was initially proposed at the United Nations in the 1990s and subsequently adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2003. In Canada, Health Canada is responsible for implementing GHS.

As of 2018, more than 70 countries had adopted the GHS. Because Canada imports a number of goods from international trading partners, you’ve likely already come across GHS symbols. This training will provide you with the information you need to know about the new WHMIS (called WHMIS 2015) and includes information on:

  • Symbols and pictograms
  • Safety data sheets
  • Risk phrases
  • Hazard categories
  • Other elements of the GHS

As a worker, you have a right to know about hazards. All Canadian employers, including uOttawa, must ensure that workers can recognize and interpret these new pictograms and phrases, hence the requirement for this updated WHMIS training.

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