Hazardous Materials


Workplace information includes knowledge of the hazards of the workplace and of the materials used in the workplace. The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a major response to the worker’s right-to-know about the 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
  • Safety data sheets
  • Worker education and training programs

Departmental Requirements – Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

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

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.

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.

WHMIS Program

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering implements the WHMIS program using the information provided through WHMIS as well as other information from the workplace. WHMIS information is in the form of labelling and SDS. Other workplace information includes knowledge of the hazards of the workplace and the 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 department will:

  1. Assign responsibility for program implementation. The WHMIS Coordinator for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is Erin Hagen
  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
  3. Ensure that WHMIS labeling and data sheets are in place
    • Have the purchasing department or agent request SDS 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 SDS and appropriate labels for controlled products produced in the workplace.
    • Make data sheets 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: ex/ ventilation, process modification and isolation of the source.
    • Administrative controls: ex/ 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 departments 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 Department of Health, Safety and Environment offers a Chemical 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 SDS is no more than three years old.
    • Make sure labels are legible.
    • Make sure all workplace controls are effective.



  • Prepares proper supplier labels for products distributed and sold in Canada
  • Develops or obtains current Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each controlled product they sell or import
  • Sends a copy of the current SDS to the purchaser on or before the date of sale at the time of the first purchase