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In 1988 the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), came into effect. Prior to the existence of health and safety laws workers had no right to know about the substances they were being exposed to at work. Many workers developed occupational diseases, several of which lead to death, that were not recognized and therefore no compensation was given to the families who suffered from these on the job exposures.
WHMIS was developed by labour, industry, and government to identify hazardous materials at work and to provide workers with information and training about the hazardous materials they work with in order to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from injury or disease. WHMIS is also referred to as “right to know” legislation because it established a uniform information system and training requirements to protect the health of workers.
There are three main components to WHMIS:
  1. Warning Labels - supplier and workplace label identification to inform workers;
  2. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) – technical documents that provide more detailed information about hazards and precautions;
  3. Worker Training – how to understand and use the information provided.
All three components must be in place if hazardous materials are used in the workplace.
Local 1089, provides a complete WHMIS course through the Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC), which is recognized by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Therefore, WHSC courses are generally recognized and accepted across Ontario.