GHS Implementation with WHMIS 2015

Understanding the Changes to WHMIS 2015 and the Implementation of Globally Harmonized Systems (GHS) in Canada

After many years of discussion, Canada is aligning the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) with the international standard of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The old WHMIS will be known as WHMIS 1988 and the updated WHMIS with GHS will be called WHMIS 2015.


Compare WHIMIS 1988 to WHIMIS 2015.


When Did WHMIS 2015 Come into Effect?

The final Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) were published on February 11, 2015 in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The provinces across Canada are rolling out their WHMIS legislation. Employers will need to be fully transitioned to WHMIS 2015 by Dec. 1, 2018.

Transition Timeline Time Period Manufacturers & importers Distributors Employer
Phase 1 Feb. 11, 2015
May 31, 2018
WHMIS 1988 Or WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988
WHMIS 2015
Consult your Federal/ Provincial/ Territorial OSH Regulator
Phase 2 June 1, 2018
Aug 31, 2018
WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988
WHMIS 2015
WHMIS 1988
WHMIS 2015
Phase 3 Sept 1, 2018
Nov. 30, 2018
WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 1988
WHMIS 2015
Completion Dec. 1, 2018 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015 WHMIS 2015

What do I need to do as an employer to be compliant with WHMIS 2015?

Under WHMIS 2015, employers will continue to:

  • Educate and train workers on the hazards and safe use of products.
  • Ensure that hazardous products (formerly Controlled Products) are properly labelled.
  • Prepare workplace labels and safety data sheets (SDSs formerly MSDSs) as necessary.
  • Provide access for workers to up-to-date SDSs and labels.


Implementing WHIMIS 2015 in your workplace.


How GHS has changed WHMIS 2015:

GHS has the following significant changes that are different to WHMIS 2015:

  • Controlled Products are now called Hazardous Products
  • Different Hazard Classes and more of them.
  • Different Classification of Chemicals New Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) with 16-sections
  • No requirement to update SDSs every 3 years (some provinces like BC under WHMIS 2015 require employers to check with the supplier that they have the most current SDS for the product).
  • New Supplier Labels
  • New Pictograms Click to see a PDF of the new WHMIS 2015 pictograms.

Hazard Classification under WHMIS 2015

Hazard group classification under WHMIS 2015 – Chemscape Safety Technologies.

Most of the hazard classes in WHMIS 2015 are common to GHS; this means they will be used worldwide with other countries that have adopted GHS. There are a few classes that are specific to WHMIS 2015 like the biohazardous infectious materials symbol and class that signifies organisms or toxins that cause disease in people or animals (i.e HIV, Hepatitis, Salmonella).

Hazard Groups Under WHIMIS 2015

WHMIS 2015 classifies by assigning a product to a group and then to a category and finally a class. WHMIS 2015 has two major hazard groups:

  • Physical Hazards Group: chemicals in this hazard group present significant physical danger.  Products are classified based on their physical state (solid, liquid, gas) and physical properties (explosive, flammable, corrosive).  
  • Health hazard Group: chemicals in this hazard group present health danger either in the short term or long term.

There is also a third GHS group called the Environmental Hazards Group that was not adopted by Canada or the USA; those countries use other regulations for the environment.  A product can have more than one hazard group classification.  

Example: Methanol Classification




Physical Hazard 

Flammable liquid 

Health Hazard 

Acute toxicity (Oral) 

Health Hazard 

Acute toxicity (Dermal) 

Health Hazard 

Acute toxicity (Inhalation) 

Health Hazard 

Eye Irritation 


Health Hazard 

Reproductive toxicity - Effects on or via lactation 


Health Hazard 

Specific target organ toxicity (single exposure) 

WHIMIS 2015 Symbols 

  Health Hazards

Health Hazard GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Acute Toxicity GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Hazardous Optional Environmental Ozone Layer GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Corrosive Chemicals GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015

  Physical Hazards

Gasses Under Pressure GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Explosives, Self-Reactive and Organic Peroxides GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Flammables & Pyrophoric GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Oxidizers GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Biohazardous Infectious Materials GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015
Aquatic Toxicity Optional Environmental GHS Pictogram for WHMIS 2015

WHMIS 2015 and the GHS Hazard Pictograms

WHMIS 2015 – Chemscape Safety Technologies.


Enhance Workplace Safety with Chemscape’s WHMIS Online Training Course

WHMIS 2015 with GHS is a comprehensive online course authored by Chemscape that covers all the essential elements of the new WHMIS 2015 with GHS.  Contact us Toll Free at 1-855-720-6737 or by email to learn more about our GHS Transition Solutions and getting your workers WHMIS and GHS certified.


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