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2. The WHMIS Legislation

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is implemented by a combination of federal and provincial legislation. The main purpose of the federal WHMIS legislation is to require the suppliers of hazardous materials used in the workplace to provide health and safety information about their products as a condition of sale. The main purpose of the provincial WHMIS legislation is to require employers to obtain health and safety information about hazardous materials in the workplace and to pass this information on to workers.

The Federal WHMIS Legislation

There are 5 pieces of federal legislation that implement WHMIS.

  1. The Hazardous Products Act, which places duties on suppliers, who sell or import a hazardous material for use in a workplace in Canada, to provide labels and material safety data sheets to their customers.
  2. The Controlled Products Regulation, passed on January 20, 1988, under the authority of the Hazardous Products Act. This regulation defines what a controlled product is, and also sets out in detail the information that the supplier is required to put on a label and a material safety data sheet.
  3. The Ingredient Disclosure List, issued on January 20, 1988, under the Hazardous Products Act. This list contains the names of chemicals which must be identified on a material safety data sheet, if they are ingredients of a controlled product, and present above a specified concentration.
    The Ingredient Disclosure List is not a finite list of chemicals to which WHMIS applies. Although most of the chemicals on the list are controlled products, WHMIS applies to many more chemicals than are on the list.
  4. The Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, passed on June 30, 1987. This Act establishes the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, which is the federal agency that will rule on claims for exemption from disclosing confidential business information. The Act also defines the type of information that a supplier or employer may withhold from a label or material safety data sheet.
  5. The Hazardous Materials Information Review Regulations passed on January 20, 1988, under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. This regulation sets out the criteria that the Commission will use when assessing the validity of a claim for exemption, and also sets out the fees to be paid when filing a claim for exemption, or appealing a decision of the Commission.

Ontario's WHMIS Legislation

There are 2 pieces of provincial legislation that implement WHMIS in Ontario:

  1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, which places duties on employers in charge of workplaces where hazardous materials are used, to obtain labels and material safety data sheets from their suppliers and to provide worker education programs.
  2. The WHMIS Regulation, Ontario Regulation 644/88 (now R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 860), which came into effect on October 31, 1988. This regulation sets out in detail the employer duties respecting labels, material safety data sheets and worker education.

Ontario's WHMIS Regulation is based on a model regulation. All other provinces and territories based their WHMIS regulations on the same model. This procedure was followed in order to ensure consistency across Canada, of the provincial and territorial WHMIS legislation.

Note:

The provincial WHMIS legislation does not apply to federal workplaces such as banks, post offices and airports. Instead, certain sections of the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Occupational Safety and Health Regulations implement WHMIS in federal workplaces. These sections are not covered in this guide.

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