The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a major response to the worker’s right-to-know about safety and health hazards of materials used in the workplace.

WHMIS legislation provides employees, employers and suppliers nationwide with specific vital information about hazardous materials through the key elements of:

  • Controlled product labeling
  • Material Safety Data Sheets
  • Worker education and training programs


On the basis of WHMIS and other workplace information, the Unit has developed work procedures that ensure worker health and safety. Workers must be educated in hazards and trained in work procedures.

  1. Annual Chemical Inventory

    An annual inventory of hazardous materials must be maintained which identifies all hazardous substances and their quantities at the workplace. A chemical inventory includes the chemical name (formula) of the material and the size of its container. There is a sample chemical inventory form in the Appendix “Health and Safety Program -Forms and Check-sheets”.

    Annual inventories allow for the following:

    1. To check ethers and other chemicals with limited shelf life.
    2. To remove surplus hazardous chemicals
    3. To remove chemicals that you would not or have not used in the past 1-3 years.
    4. To correct incompatible storage.
    5. To identify which chemicals are present.
  2. Active WHMIS Program


    The Unit implements the WHMIS program using information provided through WHMIS as well as other information from the workplace. WHMIS information is in the form of labeling and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Other workplace information includes knowledge of the hazards of the workplace, use of hazardous materials that depend upon factors such as quantities used, work processes and work location.

    In order to implement a WHMIS program, the Unit will:

    1. Assign responsibility for program implementation.
    2. Establish an inventory of controlled products
      • Contact suppliers for assistance with products supplied to the workplace.
      • Collect data on products produced in the workplace and determine if they are controlled or not
      • The Chemical Inventory Form may be obtained from the generic manual (see below).
    3. Ensure that WHMIS labeling and data sheets are in place
      • Have the purchasing Unit or agent request Material Health and Safety Data Sheets from suppliers.
      • Have the shipper/receiver or other appropriate person check incoming labels and data sheets for compliance with WHMIS standards.
      • Provide workplace labeling where required.
      • Prepare material Health and Safety data sheets and appropriate labels for controlled products produced in the workplace (Only if product is being sold).
      • Make MSDSs available to workers
    4. Determine the hazards of controlled products in the workplace
      • Review the specific hazard of the storage, handling and use of controlled products in the workplace. Take into account the physical and health hazards of the product, quantities, work processes, location of use etc.
    5. Establish workplace controls, based on hazard evaluations, which could include:
      • Engineering controls: i.e. ventilation, process modification and isolation of the source.
      • Administrative controls: i.e. work procedures, storage arrangements, maintenance and time scheduling.
      • Personal protective equipment used only in situations where other controls are not practicable.
    6. Establish emergency procedures
      • First aid measures
      • Fire-fighting/evacuation measures (notify fire Units of hazardous materials).
      • Procedures to handle spills or accidental release.
    7. Provide worker education and training
      • Educate workers in how WHMIS works and the hazards of controlled products
      • Train them in the necessary work procedures, emergency procedures and procedures to follow when using the product
      • The Unit of Health, Health and Safety & Environment offers a Chemical Health and Safety course that fulfills the worker education and training requirement.
    8. Review and upgrade the program
      • Review the program of instruction at least once a year or more often if necessary.
      • Re-instruct workers when necessary.
      • Make sure no MSDS is no more than three years old.
      • Make sure labels are legible and complete.
      • Make sure all workplace controls are effective.


    • “Health and Safety Program Forms and Check Sheets” – see Chemical Inventory From
    • “Due Diligence”
    • “Record, Documentation and Statistics”
    • “Orientation, Training and Supervision of Workers”
    • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, Appendix III
    • University of British Columbia Laboratory Chemical Health and Safety Manual
    • University of British Columbia Hazardous Waste Disposal
    • WCB Regulation, part 5
    • UBC Policy #7 Health and Safety