Guidance for employers during transition to WHMIS 2015
Amendments to the federal Hazardous Products Act and
Hazardous Products Regulations requirements for Workplace
Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) are now in effect.
The amendments, referred to as WHMIS 2015, reflect the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
To ensure consistency of WHMIS across Canada, provincial and
territorial jurisdictions responsible for occupational health and
safety legislation have agreed to implement the necessary changes
to their respective legislation as soon as practical. Where
provincial or territorial jurisdictions are unable to bring the
required legislative amendments into force on February 11, 2015,
the transition to WHMIS 2015 will be implemented through temporary
measures until the necessary amendments are put in place.
Transition will take effect in three phases:
- Phase One – Suppliers and employers will be able to comply with
either the 1988 or the 2015 requirements (February 11, 2015 to June
- Phase Two and Three – Labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) from
WHMIS 1988 are gradually phased out, starting at the top of the
supply chain (manufacturers and importers), working through to
distributors and eventual full compliance with WHMIS 2015 at the
workplace level (June 2017 to December 2018).
This transitional approach is guided by five principles and any
temporary measures necessary in provincial or territorial
jurisdictions will be applied to ensure employee health and safety.
The five principles are:
- Primacy of occupational health and safety – Protecting
employees from the adverse effects from exposure to hazardous
- Collaboration – The federal, provincial and territorial
jurisdictions and Health Canada work collaboratively during the
- Consistency – Jurisdictions will make every effort to ensure
consistency across Canada, both in the wording of amended
legislation and its implementation during the transition
- Clarity – Health Canada will provide jurisdictions with clear
and timely information on the new requirements and WHMIS
jurisdictions will clearly communicate the common transition
approach to stakeholders.
- Flexibility – A transitional approach will allow suppliers and
employers a broader timeframe to adjust and comply with the WHMIS
New Brunswick has begun the process to amend the required
legislation and regulation to reflect the WHMIS 2015 requirements.
Additional amendments will also be included to address the
legislative style and language that have contributed to enforcement
issues, as well as to provide consideration for new technologies
now available for hazard communication. The amendments will also
include provisions for the transition period from WHMIS 1988 to
WHMIS 2015. However, the process will not be complete by February
2015 and workplaces may receive products with labels and SDSs that
are produced according to the new WHMIS 2015 provisions.
Employees will be permitted to use those products until the
legislation/regulation is amended, under these conditions:
- When an employer receives products with both WHMIS 1988 and
WHMIS 2015 labels and SDSs, employees may use the products if they
have received instruction and training in at least WHMIS 1988
- When an employer receives products with only WHMIS 2015 labels
and SDSs, employees may use the products as long as the employer
complies with Sections 58-69 (Hazardous Substances) of the
General Regulation 91-191.
Option 2 provides that until the regulation is amended, products
that meet the definition of ‘hazardous products’ under the HPR will
be considered a ‘hazardous substance’* under the General
Regulation 91-191. They would therefore be subject to the
requirements of Section 58 to 69 of the regulation, which
- Designating employee(s) responsible for the proper handling and
storage of hazardous substances (S. 58).
- Providing training and information on the identity, nature and
potential hazards as well as the safe handling, use, storage and
disposal of the substance (S. 59).
- Containers used for hazardous substances are clearly labelled
to identify the substance and provide information on its safe
handling, and that the precautions necessary for the safe handling,
use, storage and disposal of the substance are available on the
container or separate information sheet (S. 60, 61).
- Substances stored to protect the health and safety of
employees, using information available on a (material) safety data
sheet or obtained from the supplier (S. 66).
- Other provisions could apply depending on the
Information to help with the transition from WHMIS 1988 to WHIMS
2015 is available for suppliers, distributors, employers and
employees through WHMIS.org and WorkSafeNB.ca. Additional
information and resources will be added throughout the transition
Questions on this and other topics can be submitted to
Compliance and Regulatory Review at
For media inquiries, contact the Communications Department 506
632-2223 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* “hazardous substance” means a substance
that may, because of its harmful nature, cause injury or damage to
the health or safety of a person exposed to it.