WHMIS 2015 Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other forms of labels allowed?

In specific cases, yes. A WHMIS label can also be a mark, sign, stamp, sticker, seal, ticket, tag, or wrapper. It can be attached, imprinted, stencilled or embossed on the hazardous product or its container. Workers must be trained to be able to identify these alternate systems if they are used in the workplace.

Variations on the supplier label apply to specific situations such as:

  • Bulk shipments - A labelling exemption exists for products sold without packaging.
  • 100 mL or less - Exempt only from requirement to have precautionary or hazard statements on the label.
  • 3mL or less - Where the label will interfere with normal use of the product, the product would be required to have a label that is durable and legible for transport and storage, but may be removed during use.

What happens if consumer products are used in the workplace?

Consumer products are those products that can be purchased in a store and are generally intended to be used in the home. They often include cleaning products, adhesives, or lubricants. These products are labelled according to other legislation.

A comprehensive chemical safety program would include both hazardous products as regulated by WHMIS, and any other products that a worker may be exposed to (which includes consumer products). Workers should still receive education and training for safe use of these products.

Why do some products (ex. cleaners, disinfectants) have a safety data sheet but don’t have WHMIS 2015 labels on the container?

If the product is not regulated as a hazardous product, WHMIS 2015 labels are not required. 

SDSs provide more detailed hazard information about the product than the label. They are an important resource for workplaces and workers to provide information about the product(s) used and are commonly included from the supplier as a best practice, even if it’s not a regulatory requirement.

How does WHMIS 2015 apply to laboratory samples?

If a hazardous product is produced in a laboratory, the employer is exempt from the requirements of workplace labels if the hazardous product:

a) is intended by the employer solely for the use, analysis, testing or evaluation for research and development;

b) is not removed from the laboratory; and

c) is clearly identified through a combination of any modes of identification visible to workers at the workplace and worker education and training. 

Do Safety Data Sheets Expire?

If a hazardous product that is used in a workplace is three years old, the employer shall, if possible, obtain from the supplier an up-to-date safety data sheet with respect to the hazardous product at that time.

How does WHMIS 2015 apply to consumers products (ex. cleaners)?  

 A WHMIS 2015 supplier label and a safety data sheet are not required for hazardous products that are a “consumer product” as defined in section 2 of the Canada Consumer Products Safety Act.

Do labels and SDS need to be printer in colour?

Labels must include colour pictograms and shall not be printed in black and white.

SDSs, and their pictograms, may be printed/reproduced in either black and white or colour.