WHMIS: Visual Communications to Strengthen Workplace Safety

WHMIS pictogram warnings workplace safety

In an era when we are bombarded with information and content, making sure your message stands out is increasingly challenging.

Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the field of workplace safety.

WHMIS pictogram flameFrom safety training to maintaining a safe work environment, effective communication is vital.

When it comes to communicating the presence of hazardous materials and potential workplace safety hazards, WHMIS is the gold standard of safety.

In this edition of the ACT Workplace Safety Blog we’ll explore WHMIS, what it means for your workplace safety and how best to communicate workplace safety hazards through WHMIS signage and labelling.


WHMIS Origins, Purpose & Workplace Safety Effectiveness

WHMIS pictogram biohazardWHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

WHMIS was created with the safety of Canadian workers in mind, informing anyone in the workplace (staff, management and visitors) about the presence of hazardous materials and chemicals – and of the potential threat these hazardous materials could post to workplace safety.

WHMIS pictogram environment

Specifically, the hazardous material threats addressed by WHMIS are:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Damage to property

WHMIS pictogram flameWHMIS is designed to reduce the instances of all four of these workplace safety threats.

The current WHMIS legislation dates from 2015.

WHMIS pictogram gas cylinderWHMIS laws in Canada, however, have been in place since the 1980s.

All manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with the regulations of WHMIS 2015.

Using WHMIS signage and labelling properly, you can reduce the threat potential and bolster your workplace safety.

WHMIS: Steps to Take to Increase Workplace Safety

WHMIS pictogram poisonWHMIS labelling and signage is not an ad hoc process, but rather one of proactive workplace safety measures.

A good first step is to take an audit of the hazardous materials and chemicals that are present in your workplace. This involves:

  • Doing an inventory of hazardous materials & chemicals
  • Identify where these hazardous materials are located and to whom a potential threat exists
  • Assess the current level of WHMIS signage and labelling of hazardous materials

WHMIS pictogram exclamationOnce this WHMIS inventory and assessment are completed, it’s time to create an action plan for WHMIS improvements – and then to execute the plan with tangible action to increase WHMIS compliance for workplace safety.

Part of this process is understanding the various WHMIS pictograms, their meanings and purpose, and how best to display these WHMIS pictograms in the workplace for maximum safety and accident prevention.

WHMIS pictogram bombWHMIS posters, signs and labels alert staff and visitors alike to the presence of hazardous materials – and to the potential threat of injury, illness, damage or even death.

This simple but powerful form of communication has been proven to be effective in creating safer workplaces. That’s why WHMIS is the law today, and that’s why your workplace must be WHMIS compliant to be considered a safe workplace.

How ACT Helps with WHMIS in Strengthening Workplace Safety

WHMIS pictogram health hazardIf you haven’t undertaken a WHMIS inventory and assessment for workplace safety recently, there’s no better time to start than now.

Advanced Consulting & Training, a workplace safety training & consulting leader in Ontario, offers consulting services to workplaces including WHMIS assessment and recommendations.

We also offer safety training classes – at our location or at yours – in WHMIS/GHS as well as Manager Due Diligence.

Make sure your workplace safety is stellar. Contact us today to get started.


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