WHMIS 2015 Training: When Waiting Will Cause Trouble…

Let’s set the record straight: if you operate in Canada and your company receives or uses hazardous products, it’s uncertain you’ll have until 2017 or 2018 to handle WHMIS 2015 required compliance training.

Nissan Pulsar - as old as WHMIS 1988

Wondering what WHMIS and the Nissan Pulsar could possibly have in common?

Prior to this year, WHMIS regulations hadn’t changed much since 1988 – the days of Calgary’s Winter Games and The Trade – when “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” was a hit and Nissan’s Pulsar was the car. Now that you know Canada’s top sports car in 1988 and feel older than you did a minute ago, let’s talk WHMIS 2015 required training and what you need to be thinking about today.

A number of SafetySmart clients have been asking if they have until 2017 to get employees trained or take action. While 2017 is one of the key years in the WHMIS transition timetable published by Health Canada, don’t get caught flat-footed by the timetable. The switch from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 does span across a few years, but a quick reality check indicates you’ll likely need your required WHMIS 2015 training finished much sooner:

  • Workers need to be trained as soon as products using the WHMIS 2015 standard show up on a site
  • Even if you’d prefer to wait until 2017, if your suppliers act quick, your workers will need to be trained
  • Some suppliers will act sooner than others, meaning you’ll have both products following both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015; in these cases employees will need to be aware of both the old WHMIS 1988 and new WHMIS 2015 labels, pictograms, and safety data sheets (aka SDS, or MSDS under WHMIS 1988.)

Some provinces will allow continued use of old your old WHMIS 1988 workplace labels on products you receive that are WHMIS 2015 compliant.  Alberta, for example, provides an exception to apply a WHMIS 1988 work site label over the WHMIS 2015 label during the transition period. But if you go that route to delay handling training, it may only cause more headaches: you’ll also need to develop WHMIS 1988-compliant safety data sheets on your own. If that’s not enough fun for your day, other provinces are still finalizing their regulations with respect to the transition and training requirements.

Fortunately there’s many ways to get help, but if you’re thinking you’ve got a couple years to deal with WHMIS 2015 training….. think again!

If your WHMIS program is an ’88 Pulsar and it’s  time to trade up, check out SafetySmart’s  complete WHMIS compliance solution, including training for workers and ongoing guidance for managers. Training and guidance can also be purchased separately for use in your own program.


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