How to meet legislated training standards for both WHMIS 1988 and 2015

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

New training jointly developed by Ontario’s workplace health and safety associations

WHMIS1988-WHMIS2015 training information sheet includes symbol comparison chart - please download, share and encourage discussion in your workplace.

Participants in occupational health and safety training class

In February 2016, a new course, WHMIS1988/WHMIS2015, jointly designed by Ontario’s four designated health and safety associations will be available to Ontario workers and employers. 

More than 65 countries, including Canada, are adopting a consistent standard to enable a single international system for the classification and labelling of chemicals. The Global Harmonization System (GHS) establishes common ways for countries to classify and communicate hazards by providing consistent warning labels and safety data sheets.

WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) is the system used in Canada for classifying and labelling hazardous workplace chemicals. 

WHO: Ontario workers

Ontario workers must be trained on both WHMIS 1988 and 2015 until Dec. 1, 2018. Canada has incorporated GHS into WHMIS legislation, and is currently in a transition period from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015 until Dec 1, 2018. 

While WHMIS 2015 legislation has been approved federally, it is currently moving through the provincial regulatory system at the Ontario Ministry of Labour. A multi-year transition period is in effect where both 1988 and 2015 systems may be in use. During the transition period, if both systems are used in your workplace, then workers must be trained on both WHMIS laws up until Dec. 1, 2018.

Key changes to federal WHMIS legislation

  1. “Controlled Products” will be called “Hazardous Products”
  2. Different hazard classes and more of them
  3. Different classification criteria
  4. New supplier labels
  5. New pictograms
  6. New 16-section product safety data sheets (SDSs)
  7. No requirement to update SDSs every three years

WHAT: New provincial WHMIS training course

New WHMIS1988/WHMIS2015 course includes information on both old and new WHMIS versions to ensure all Ontario workplace health and safety programs meet legal training standards. 

Due to the multi-year implementation of the global harmonized system in Canada, this new course was designed to fulfill Ontario employer requirements for worker training during the transition period. 

Originally created to address the worker’s right to know about the health and safety hazards associated with the materials or chemicals they use at work, and how best to deal with them, the updated program material reflects both WHMIS1988 and WHMIS2015 versions. The $80 half-day classroom course is applicable to all Ontario workplaces, including mining, forestry, paper, printing, converting, and small business sectors. 

Course description
WHMIS 1988/WHMIS 2015 half-day course reviews specific requirements for hazard identification and product classification for any workplace that uses, handles, stores or disposes of hazardous materials, including how hazardous material information must be communicated to workers through product labels, safety data sheets, and training.

After completing WHMIS 1988/WHMIS 2015, participants will be able to:

  • Describe WHMIS and why it is important to workers
  • Describe what the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is and how it affects WHMIS
  • Describe hazards associated with WHMIS-regulated products
  • Identify WHMIS hazard classes and symbols
  • Identify information types covered on supplier and workplace labels
  • Describe the purpose, content and function of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • Describe hazard controls for WHMIS-regulated products
  • Describe legal rights and duties under WHMIS
  • Apply the knowledge acquired in the course to their workplace.

Intended audience:  This course is intended for workers, supervisors, Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) members, lead hands, and managers.

WHEN: Important dates to note

The new WHMIS1988/WHMIS2015 course will be available in February 2016, and training schedules have been set up across the province. 

Employers have until Dec. 1, 2018 to fully implement WHMIS 2015. Until then, both WHMIS 1988 and/or 2015 labelling systems may be used. After Dec. 1, 2018, employers must have used up all of the WHMIS 1988 products or re-labelled them to conform to the new global standards set out in WHMIS 2015. 

Legislative deadlines
The provinces and territories are working on harmonizing with the federal transition plan to enable a seamless update from WHMIS 1988 to the new WHMIS 2015 in the workplace. 

Phase 1: May 31, 2017 – Requirements determined by provincial regulator; for Ontario, more detailed information is expected shortly on the Ministry of Labour website.

Phase 2: May 31, 2018 – Facilities must comply with Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) or the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).

Phase 3: November 30, 2018 – Facilities must fully comply with the Canadian Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).

WHERE: The difference between classroom and online training

The training takes place in the classroom with an instructor. There is also a one-hour online WHMIS awareness program, however it only covers the new WHMIS 2015, and therefore does not fulfil employers’ legal requirements to train workers on both versions up until Dec. 1, 2018. 

WHY: Making workplaces safer

Workers benefit from classroom training on the new WHMIS1988/WHMIS2015 course because it provides a full understanding of both versions of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) symbols, labels and data sheets during this transition period.

The new course ensures optimum workplace health and safety during the multi-year WHMIS transition period, and fulfils Ontario employer requirements for worker training. 

To schedule training, employers can contact WSN at (705) 474-7233 or


View training course: WHMIS1988-WHMIS2015

Top 7 significant changes to federal WHMIS law – WSN

Course catalogue: WHMIS1988/WHMIS2015

Training calendar

Health Canada – Environmental and Workplace Health website

National WHMIS Information Webpage:


WHMIS 1988/2015 Training Information Sheet and Comparison Chart - WSN

Pictogram poster - CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety) resource webpage including presentation, poster, FAQs 

Free resource material on industrial hygiene