Ontario's WHMIS legislation applies to all workplaces covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, with the exception of farms. In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responsible for the enforcement of both the federal and provincial WHMIS legislation.
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What Is WHMIS Education and Training?
Education and training under WHMIS 2015 after Global Harmonization (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) can be thought of as two separate parts. Education refers to the instruction of workers in general information, such as how WHMIS works and the hazards of controlled products. Training refers to the instruction in site-specific information, such as work and emergency procedures. Both education and training are an important part of understanding the hazards that may be present at your workplace.
Do I Have to Be Educated and Trained in WHMIS?
Yes, all Canadian jurisdictions require that employers develop, implement and maintain a worker education program that will enable workers to work safely with hazardous chemicals. Instruction on requirements for labels and safety data sheets, information on hazard categories, pictograms, how products may affect the workers' health or safety, as well as training in safe work procedures, are necessary. The employer has the general responsibility to provide all hazard information possible either from suppliers, or information the employer is or ought to be aware of. This duty is largely accomplished through education and training programs offered on a regular basis.
The specific WHMIS education and training requirements are regulated by each occupational health and safety jurisdiction. In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responsible for the enforcement of both the federal and provincial WHMIS legislation. This outline is intended for general information purposes only.
What Is the Purpose of WHMIS Training?
While the specific details of what to teach will vary from workplace to workplace, the common objectives for any training program remain the same. The overall goal is to give the workers knowledge and information, which they can understand and apply to protect their health and safety every day.
For example, it is not enough for a worker to know that the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) suggests a particular type of respirator for protection against a certain product. The worker must know where to get the respirator, locations in the plant where its use is mandatory, how to test it for fit, and where necessary, how to maintain and store it. A successful program gives the worker the ability to use safe procedures with a controlled product and the understanding of why such procedures are necessary.
What, in General, Is the Content of a WHMIS Training Program?
Very simply, training typically has two parts:
Can People in the Same Plant Receive Different Training?
Instruction is not only based on the information contained in labels and data sheets, but also on
the conditions in the workplace, such as the likelihood of exposure to the product and the
corrective measures to be taken. The level of training will depend on the nature of the work.
For example, maintenance people will require instruction on working with chemicals, various processes, and much more. Office workers in the same facility likely only need training in emergency procedures.
What Are the Criteria for a Successful Program?
At the end of the education and training program, a worker should have the ability to answer four general questions:
Workers should demonstrate that they know how to get the information provided by the labels and SDS. They should know about the supplier and workplace labels, other ways used to identify the products, what these labels mean, as well as what hazard class and pictograms apply. They must also know how to get the SDS (either by the binder location or by accessing a computer) so that they have a way to obtain information significant to his or her health and safety.
The worker should be able to read and understand the label and MSDS, as well as be aware of any possible harmful effects of the material in question.
An understanding of the controls used in the workplace is necessary to understand whether these controls are accomplished by means of the engineering, administration, or by personal protective equipment.
Understanding the procedures to follow in the event of a spill, release, fire or poisoning involving a controlled product is required. Included in the understanding is the use of personal protective equipment that may be necessary only in the case of an emergency.