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How will the GHS change WHMIS?

Looking from the big picture viewpoint, GHS does not change the basic concept of WHMIS.


DON'T BE FOOLED by those who sound like a Philadelphia Lawyer explaining the GHS changes in language too complicated for the average worker to understand.


Some of the finer details will change like symbols and main classifications, but on a high level, WHMIS is and has been always about;


1-How the materials will harm workers,

2-How to protect yourself,

3-What to do in case of an emergency; and

4-Where to get more information.


As you can see anyone who is familiar with WHMIS will quickly understand the basic concept remains the same. Some (not all) of the basic changes are as follows;


- Hazard Symbols are now in a red diamond shape to draw attention better and a few symbols have been updated; and

- We now have 2 basic hazard classifications;

  1. Physical Hazards, or something that harms you mainly from the outside, (example getting burned by fuels); and
  2. Health Hazards, or something that mainly harms you from the inside, example (inhalation of toxic gasses)

To stay consistent with the rest of the world, we finally went to the 16 part format safety data sheet (SDS). (the word material was dropped from MSDS) Canada has adopted 12 parts as mandatory as other sections are covered under different Canadian laws.


So at the end of the day WHMIS 2015 or WHMIS 1988 is an Information System about hazardous materials found in workplaces.


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Kevin Carey
October 6, 2019
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