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8. WHMIS and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods: A Comparison (Continued)

  • ISBN: 978-1-4249-6996-8
  • Revised: August 2008
  • Content last reviewed: June 2009

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.

Colour Restrictions for WHMIS Hazard Symbols

Under the Controlled Products Regulation, hazard symbols on the WHMIS supplier label must be "in a colour that is not likely to create confusion" with a safety mark required by TDG legislation [section 22(b)]. These four rules will help prevent confusion between the two systems.

  1. The colour orange must not be used for any WHMIS symbol because it is reserved for TDG Class 1, Explosives.
  2. The WHMIS symbol may be in the same colour(s) required under TDG for that product. For example, the TDG background colour for most flammables is red, and for oxidizers, yellow. It is permissible to use red for WHMIS Class B, Flammable and Combustible Material, and yellow for Class C, Oxidizing Materials.
  3. Except for the colour orange, the WHMIS symbol may be in any colour(s) not required under TDG for that pictogram. For example, TDG does not use colours such as brown, purple, etc. These colours can be used for WHMIS symbols.
  4. The WHMIS symbol must not be in a colour combination that is possible under TDG for that pictogram but not permitted by TDG for the product. For example, one TDG colour combination for the cylinder pictogram is green on white, which applies to non-flammable, non-toxic, non-corrosive compressed gases. The pictogram for WHMIS Class A, Compressed Gases, is the cylinder. The combination green and white must not be used in WHMIS for any compressed gas which is flammable, toxic or corrosive.

The application of rules 1-4 permits the use of black on white for all WHMIS hazard symbols, except that the cylinder pictogram used to depict a non-corrosive compressed gas must not be a solid black cylinder on a white background. A black outline of a cylinder is acceptable.

Table 2 summarizes the colour restrictions for each of the WHMIS hazard symbols.

Table 2. Colour Restrictions for WHMIS Hazard Symbols
WHMIS Class Hazard Symbol Restrictions [ 1 ]
A Cylinder Green and white cannot be used if gas is flammable, poisonous (toxic) or corrosive. A solid black cylinder on white background may only be used, if the gas is corrosive.
B Flame Yellow cannot be used. Blue may only be used for a product that emits flammable gases on contact with water.
C Flame with an "O" Red and blue cannot be used.
D
  1. Skull and Crossbones
  2. Stylized "T"
  3. Biohazard
No restrictions except as noted below. [ 1 ]
E Corrosive No restriction except as noted below. [ 1 ]
F Stylized "R" (Dangerously Reactive) No restriction except as noted below. [ 1 ]

[ 1 ] The colour orange must not be used for any WHMIS Class because it is reserved for TDG Class 1, Explosives.

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