This guideline is being updated to reflect changes that take effect July 1, 2016 as amendments to the WHMIS regulation, Regulation 860, come into force.
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
The Federal WHMIS Legislation
There are 5 pieces of federal legislation that implement WHMIS.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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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