Health Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Help the Government of Canada organize its website! Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now.
Environmental and Workplace Health

Employer Requirements

Information contained in this section is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific fact situation. For particular questions, users are invited to contact their lawyer and/or the occupational safety and health authority having jurisdiction for their workplace.

Employer Obligations - Overview

WHMIS is implemented through coordinated federal, provincial and territorial legislation. Supplier labelling and MSDS requirements are set out under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and associated Controlled Products Regulations administered by Health Canada. Each of the thirteen provincial, territorial and federal agencies responsible for occupational safety and health have established employer WHMIS requirements within their respective jurisdiction. These requirements place an onus on employers to ensure that controlled products used, stored, handled or disposed of in the workplace are properly labelled, MSDSs are made available to workers, and workers receive education and training to ensure the safe storage, handling and use of controlled products in the workplace.

To promote national consistency in the application of WHMIS in Canada's workplaces, the government of each province and territory, as well as [the Labour Program at] Human Resources and Social Development Canada, which is responsible for workplaces under federal jurisdiction, established their respective employer requirements based on "Model [WHMIS] OSH Regulations". This model was prepared by the Occupational Health and Safety Committee of the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation.

At the outset of the program (which came into effect on October 31, 1988), all governments agreed to undertake consultations on any proposed changes to their respective WHMIS legislation and regulations with the objective of maintaining consistency with developments in the national consensus on WHMIS. The Intergovernmental WHMIS Coordinating Committee, (see "Administration & Consultation" page), serves as the forum for this consultation.

Employer WHMIS Requirements

The WHMIS page on the Next link will take you to another Web site Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Website provides a summary of WHMIS employer requirements.

Compliance Policy

As WHMIS is an information continuum, a single national compliance policy for both the supplier and employer requirements has been established. This policy is accessible from the "Compliance" page of this site.

Links To Acts And Regulations:

The acts and regulations under which Canada's thirteen federal, provincial and territorial occupational health and safety agencies have established WHMIS employer requirements within their respective jurisdictions are as follows. For enquiries related to these requirements, please contact the appropriate agency:

  Legislation Regulations
AB

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Occupational Health and Safety Code, Part 29

BC

Workers Compensation Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Part 5: Chemical Agents and Biological Agents

HRSDC

Canada Labour Code, Part II, Occupational Health and Safety

Next link will take you to another Web site Relevant regulations:
  • Aviation Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
  • Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Coal Mining Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
  • Oil and Gas Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
  • On Board Trains Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
  • Safety and Health Committees and Representatives Regulations
MB

Workplace Safety and Health Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Workplace Safety and Health Regulation - Part 35 - Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (Workplace Hazardous Information Systems)

NB

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System Regulation, NB 88-221

NF

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulations (NF Regulation 1149/96)

NS

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site WHMIS Regulations

NWT and Nunavut

The North-West Territories and Nunavut Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site WHMIS Regulations

ON

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site WHMIS regulation R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 860, as amended by: O. Reg. 36/93

PEI

Occupational Health and Safety Act, Chapter O-1.01
(R.S.P.E.I. 1988, Cap. 0-1)

Next link will take you to another Web site Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Regulations

QC

"Loi sur la santÚ et la sÚcuritÚ du travail"

Next link will take you to another Web site RŔglement sur l'information concernant les produits contr˘lÚs - available in French only

SK

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Part XXII of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) Regulations, 1996

YK

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Next link will take you to another Web site Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, WHMIS Regulations

Education & Training - FAQs

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety web site provides a description of WHMIS Education and Training requirements; (see under "Chemicals and Materials" of the 'OSH Answers' section of the site) including guidance on what constitutes "education" as distinct from site-specific "training":

Q. (education and training, certificate) Do Canadian workers require WHMIS certification?

A. No. WHMIS laws do not require that workers be issued a "certificate", card or any other document to demonstrate that they have received WHMIS education and/or training. (Note: Neither Health Canada, nor any other regulatory authority, issues WHMIS certificates to workers.

Q. (education and training, certificate, replacement) How do I replace my lost "certificate"?

A. If you are interested in replacing a document which indicates that you have received WHMIS education, please contact the party from whom you obtained it.

Q. (education and training, certification, trainers) Must WHMIS trainers be certified?

A. No. At present, there is no program authorized or endorsed by government to certify WHMIS trainers.

Q. (education and training, frequency) How often must a worker receive WHMIS education and training?

A. please contact the occupational health and safety regulatory authority having jurisdiction for the workplace.

Q. (education and training, legal responsibility) Does possession of a WHMIS "certificate" by a worker fulfill the employer's obligation to ensure that the worker has received WHMIS education and training?

A. No. The employer has the legal obligation to ensure that his/her workers have received both generic WHMIS education as well as the necessary site-specific training. The employer may, in consultation with the health and safety committee, delegate the development and administration of the education and training programs to the employer's health and safety committee or fulfill his/her legal obligations by hiring a service provider. (Note: A WHMIS "certificate" may be issued by a company to its employees or, for example, by an academic institution or a safety association. However, the possession of such a certificate by a worker does not absolve Canadian employers from their legal responsibility to ensure that each employee receives appropriate WHMIS education and applicable site-specific training including the provision of training updates and refresher courses when warranted by a change in duties and/or where required by law by the occupational health and safety regulatory authority having jurisdiction: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/occup-travail/whmis-simdut/reg-org-eng.php.

Q. (education and training, portability) Does the WHMIS education and training received in relation to a given workplace suffice for all workplaces in Canada?

A. Generic WHMIS education can apply to any workplace. However, exposure to controlled products will depend on the nature of the work. Thus, the employer must ensure that each of his/her employees receive site-specific training that is applicable to the work that the employee is required to perform.

Q. (education, web-based) Where can I obtain web-based WHMIS education?

A. Web-based WHMIS education services are commercially available and providers may advertize their services in, for example, occupational health and safety publications. (Note: Web-based services may cover generic WHMIS education but may not provide the necessary site-specific training on the safe handling and use of controlled products. Although a regulatory authority may list a service provider, neither the content nor quality of such programs is regulated by government.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If an employer imports a WHMIS controlled product for use in his/her workplace, does the employer have the option of labelling the product with a workplace label as opposed to a supplier label?

A. An importer of a controlled product is subject to the supplier MSDS and label requirements of section 14 of the HPA. As required by subsection 23(4) of the CPR, an importer who imports a controlled products that is to be labelled or repackaged in Canada must apply a supplier label to the controlled product or to the container in which the controlled product is packaged in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the HPA, (i.e., in accordance with the CPR), "before the controlled product is used".

Q. Where can I obtain information concerning occupational health and safety issues pertaining to young workers?

A. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website provides a Next link will take you to another Web site "Young Workers' Zone" which includes information on the hazards associated with jobs often held by young workers. This site also provides links to provincial educational programs and health and safety resources targeted to young workers.