Notice to the reader :
On February 11, 2015, the Government of Canada announced the coming into force of the Hazardous Products Regulations,  which incorporates the GHS in WHMIS 1988. A transition period of approximatively three years is provided during wich both systems, WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015, will co-exist.
The following information concerns WHMIS 1988.

​WHMIS: What is it?​

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

A Canada-wide system in which suppliers, employers and workers each have their own responsibilities.

WHMIS is there to protect the health and safety of workers by promoting access to information on hazardous materials used in the workplace.

Role of suppliers, employers and workers

The suppliers who manufacture, import, distribute or sell hazardous materials have to :
  • determine which of their products are controlled products
  • obtain information about their controlled products, prepare and provide this information in the form of labels and material safety data sheets
  • update the information on their controlled products every three years or as soon as there is new information about them.

The employers who purchase, use or manufacture controlled products have to :

  • ensure that all controlled products (purchased, produced on site or decanted) are properly labeled
  • obtain updated material safety data sheets from the supplier or produce them themselves for the controlled products manufactured on site
  • collaborate in the development of a training and information program on the controlled products and ensure that it is updated annually
  • ensure that employees are trained and informed and that the acquired knowledge is put into practice.
The workers who use controlled products at work have to :
  • participate in the training and information program on controlled products
  • take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their coworkers
  • participate in identifying and eliminating risks.

 A system governed by laws

WHMIS is governed by federal and provincial laws and regulations. Any person supplying or using controlled products must comply with it.

Suppliers are governed by federal legislation, specifically the Hazardous Products Act (part II) and the Controlled Products Regulation.

Employers are governed by provincial legislation, specifically the Act respecting occupational health and safety (article 62) as well as the Regulation respecting information on controlled products.


Any questions?

You don't know whether the products that you supply or use are controlled products? You want to know more about the laws and regulation? You want to set up a training program for your employees?

Do not hesitate to contact :

  • Your regional CSST office
  • The CSST's Répertoire toxicologique
  • Your joint sector-based association
  • Your CLSC (occupational health team)


A system that defines six classes of "controlled" products

WHMIS divides hazardous materials into six main classes based on their specific hazards. If a product corresponds to one or more of these classes, it becomes a "controlled" product​​​.


Six classes of "controlled" products

Classes Definitions ​Exa​mples​
A : Compressed gases​ Products held under pressure​
  • ​Oxygene
  • Propane​​
​​​B : Flammable and combustible materials
  • B1 : Flammable gases
  • B2 : Flammable liquids
  • B3 : Combustible liquids
  • B4 : Flammable solids
  • B5 : Flammable aerosols
  • B6 : Reactive flammable materials 
Products that will burn or catch on fire easily
  • Propane
  • Acetone
  • Kerosene
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
C : Oxidizing materials​ Products that can cause or promote combustion of another material (whether or not they are themselves combustible) or products that are organic peroxides
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Nitric acid​
D​1 : Materials causing
       immediate and serious
       toxic effects
Products that can rapidly cause harmful health effects, including death 
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Phenol​
D2 : Materials causing other
       toxic effects
Products whose health effects generally appear over time following one or several exposures
  • Benzene
  • Diisocyanates
  • Lead​
D3 : Biohazardous infectious materials​ Living organisms or their toxins that can cause disease in people or animals
  • AIDS virus
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Rabies virus​
E : Corrosive materials​ Products that can corrode metal surfaces or cause burns to skin 
  • Caustic soda
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Bleach
F : Dangerously reactive materials Products that can be health or safety hazards under certain conditons (pressure, temperature, impact, violent reaction with water or air)
  • Fluorine
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • B-Chloroprene​

Download the 6 symbols of WHMIS classes of products (GIF, EPS and SVG formats).

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