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Have you ever used WHMIS?

Almost everyone needs WHMIS Training to work anywhere in Canadian industry. Schools and employers have been providing training in handling hazardous materials since 1988, and this is done at significant cost in both time and money. And almost everyone agrees this is worth the cost; with the possible exception of the worker who just got told it’s WHMIS re-training time again!

By far the most common complaint about WHMIS is “Why do I have to do this training again? Didn’t I just do this?”

I’ve felt the same thing myself. But let me ask you something – have you ever “used” WHMIS? I’m sure you’ve seen WHMIS labels and symbols on the containers you handle, but do you take the recommended precautions to safeguard yourself at work and at home? Have you looked up products you handle to see for yourself what you’re being exposed to?

Notice I just referenced “you” 9 times in that paragraph? Because WHMIS is about you! It’s not about the company you work for, it’s not about safety records, and it’s not about following procedures; it is entirely about educating you so you can avoid any known short term or long term harm from the products you handle.

Personally, I never really “used” WHMIS until I was assigned as an area operator in a chemical manufacturing plant. Until then I had never looked at a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) other than at WHMIS training sessions. And to be honest, I only looked at my first one on-the-job a few days after a refresher session put it in my mind.

One of my new responsibilities was operating a chlorine dehydration unit using 97% sulphuric acid (H2SO4) to strip moisture from chlorine gas. I had been told the obvious hazards of the acid, it will burn if it touches skin or eyes, and the plant procedure requiring hard hat and chemical goggles in all process areas was supplemented by requiring a rain suit in the drying unit area. I felt as safe in there as I did in most other areas, so all was good.

On a night shift not long after my WHMIS refresher, I decided to open the WHMIS cabinet in the shop for the first time, and read the MSDS for sulphuric acid.

As I read it, I learned very little I didn’t know already…. until I got to the part saying that when inhaled in the form of a mist of very fine droplets, sulphuric acid is a carcinogen.

That’s a scary word.

No one involved with my training had ever discussed this, I think because the plant was already producing when WHMIS came into being and no one ever really used WHMIS due to an existing safety culture. Instead of being truly integrated into the plant safety process, WHMIS was treated as another required, stand-alone piece of training. And I don’t think this is uncommon.

Our Joint Health and Safety Committee reviewed procedures and determined no significant misting hazard existed as the acid was pumped in liquid form, and so no extra precautions were implemented.

For myself, I wore a full-face cartridge respirator in the drying unit from then on…. ever seen a pump seal leak? No time to worry about whether I’m looking at a “spray” or a “mist”!

So, have you ever “used” WHMIS? Make sure you do what you can to protect YOU!

Online GHS WHMIS Training



This is the Most Concise and Comprehensive Online WHMIS / GHS Transition Course available.

WHMIS is in a transition period to align it with GHS, and Contendo’s Online WHMIS 1988 / 2015 course provides you with the knowledge you need to safely handle and work with hazardous materials in the workplace, while suppliers and workplaces convert to the revised legislation.

The standards of both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 are presented in an affordable, concise presentation.

We show you how to use the Pictogram symbols, product Labels, and product Safety Data Sheets to educate yourself on the hazards of any WHMIS regulated product, as well as the Personal Protective Equipment needed to use the product.

Downloadable Worksheets are available to keep notes for later reference.

GHS WHMIS Chapter Summary

Chapter 1 08:53 Introduction to WHMIS
Chapter 2 21:20 WHMIS 1988 Classifications and Labeling
Chapter 3 7:23 WHMIS 1988 Material Safety Data Sheets
Chapter 4 22:06 WHMIS 2015 Hazard Classifications
Chapter 5 06:27 WHMIS 2015 Labels
Chapter 6 10:42 WHMIS 2015 Safety Data Sheets
Chapter 7 06:55 WHMIS Education and Training
Chapter 8 18:11 WHMIS Personal Protective Equipment

Product Video

After completing the Contendo WHMIS program, you will be able to:

  • Identify the classes, divisions, and symbols related to WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015
  • Describe various pieces of Personal Protective Equipment required for working with hazardous materials.
  • Describe WHMIS labeling , and interpret the information on the labelling
  • Identify safe, and unsafe, storage practices
  • Describe a Material Safety Data Sheet and Safety Data Sheet, the difference between the two, and interpret the information on each
  • Describe the responsibilities of employers and workers in WHMIS legislation

The course is presented in a sleek, mobile responsive platform that allows you or your employees to complete their online WHMIS training anywhere, anytime.

For Training Managers

We understand the needs of training supervisors and HR staff. Our Online WHMIS training comes packaged with our lite version Training Management System. This system allows you to purchase multiple licenses at a discounted rates and assign them to personnel as the need arises. Once your employee has completed the online WHMIS training, you’ll be able to download a copy of their certification for your records.

Contendo Training Management System

Free Resources


WHMIS is changing. This downloadable free WHMIS poster (PDF) illustrates the changes from the 1988 standard to today’s GHS standard. Please feel free to print and post this in a location where your staff can see it.

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