WHMIS at the workplace

 By Hannah Gzik

We should all be aware of what WHMIS is, but for those of you that are out of the Government Compliance loop, WHMIS is the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System which is a mandatory provincial legislation that is designed to provide workers, employers, suppliers, contractors and the general public with fixed standards of the necessary information needed to reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses that may be persistent while handling hazardous substances.

WHMIS is an important aspect of every business operation, whether it is a small business, factory or office environment (that’s right, office environments contain hazardous materials and situations and require WHMIS compliance). WHMIS will teach you how to be quick on your feet when faced with a workplace safety concern. These concerns can be a matter of life and death. Pay close attention to the reasons mentioned below as to why WHMIS ultimately impacts your future.

1) WHMIS protects worker’s health and safety: WHMIS training gives the necessary information for staff to protect themselves against hazardous materials while on the job. It raises awareness to potentially hazardous situations and arms workers with knowledge to make right decisions and in case of an incident, the right solution to deal with emergencies. It provides information on identifying labels and material safety data sheets. If this training is not provided it can pose serious health effects leading to time off work or in some cases fatality.

2) WHMIS equips workers: WHMIS training can effectively enable staff through examples and scenarios to enhance the learning experience to equip workers with the necessary knowledge and resources on safe handling and emergency responses to build greater confidence when handling hazardous material.

3) WHMIS violations can be costly: WHMIS compliance when not implemented into the workplace can be very costly towards both the company and individuals within the company who have violated the act. Penalties can result in any violations to this act, according to the Government of Ontario, a person can be fined up to $25,000 for each offence violated and/or serve up to one year behind bars, whereas a company who fails to comply with and supply the information pertaining to the Act can be fined up to $500,000 for each offence. It is also important to realize this training must be provided annually to all staff to eliminate any possibility of such expenses. It really does pay to have a safe working environment.

4) WHMIS supports you and your workers: WHMIS is the right thing to do. Demonstrating a commitment to a safe and healthy working environment is sending a strong message to workers and to customers. Your company should have Health and Safety as a priority not because it is government compliance but because it is the right thing to do.

Here are statistics gathered from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario on injuries and illnesses that took place within the 2008 workplace year.

Lost-time injuries/illnesses (An employee is forced to take time off due to an injury): 78,256 workers

No lost-time injuries/illnesses: 163,315 workers

Total injuries/illnesaths: 335 workers

It is now evident the benefits of WHMIS and the role it plays in the success of your future. We tend to believe the saying, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. When in fact you now understand that when dealing with workplace safety, what you don’t know can hurt you. When you protect your staff you simply are setting your business up for future success. Educating on this subject is where it begins. It is a benefit to anyone who steps foot in your workplace, so enrol today in our online WHMIS and Workplace Safety Training for you and your company. Reduce and eliminate injury, illness and costs.


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