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WHMIS: How to Conduct an Annual WHMIS Training Program Review

Date First Published on OHS Insider: February 13th, 2012
Topics: WHMIS |

You’ll sometimes hear safety coordinators referring to annual WHMIS training requirements. However, the WHMIS laws don’t actually require workers to get WHMIS training every year. But they do require employers to review their WHMIS training programs every year. And if as a result of that review, you change your WHMIS procedures, policies or instruction or determine that workers need refresher training, only then must you retrain workers. Here’s what you need to know about annual reviews of WHMIS training programs. There’s also a chart showing what the WHMIS laws across Canada say about WHMIS training programs and reviews of them.

MODEL REVIEW CHECKLIST: Download a Model WHMIS Training Program Review Checklist that you can adapt and use for your review.

WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES

All WHMIS laws require employers to provide training and instruction on WHMIS requirements to workers. (For more information on these requirements, see Insider, “WHMIS 101: Part 1: Understanding the WHMIS Training Requirements,” Aug. 2008 and “WHMIS 101: Part 2: How to Determine Which Workers Need WHMIS Training,” Sept. 2008.) Most jurisdictions require employers to provide such training via a worker education program. (BC requires employers to have a general program that addresses all of the WHMIS requirements, including worker education and training.) But although not every jurisdiction requires a formal training program, they all do require employers to review their WHMIS training at least once a year.

            Insider Says: For more information on all of the WHMIS requirements, including those for training, MSDSs and labels, go the OHS Insider’s WHMIS Compliance Center.

HOW TO COMPLY           

To comply with the annual WHMIS training program review requirements, you need to know the following:

When to Conduct the Review

The WHMIS regulations all require employers to review their training programs at least one a year. But they all also require additional reviews under certain circumstances, most notably when:

  • Conditions in the workplace with respect to controlled products change, such as workers start using a new controlled product; and
  • New hazard information about a controlled product used in the workplace becomes available, such as an updated MSDS that includes new PPE requirements or new health hazards posed by the controlled product.

Who to Involve in Review

Safety coordinators should probably be involved in the WHMIS training program review. But you shouldn’t and, in fact, can’t do it alone. That’s because the WHMIS regulations require employers to consult with the JHSC or health and safety representative when reviewing the training program.

What Review Should Cover

A review of the WHMIS training program is essentially a review of your entire WHMIS program or, if you don’t have a specific WHMIS program, your WHMIS policies and procedures as incorporated into your OHS or EHS program. That’s because to determine whether your WHMIS training is effective, you also need to know whether your WHMIS policies and procedures as a whole are effective. In general, a thorough review should include:

  • Evaluating the company’s procedures for the use, storage, handling and disposal of controlled products to ensure that they’re still effective;
  • Checking that no MSDS is more than three years old (MSDSs have to be updated every three years.);
  • Verifying the presence and condition of labels on all controlled products;
  • Evaluating the emergency procedures as they relate to controlled products;
  • Assessing workers’ and supervisors’ knowledge of the hazardous properties of products that they use, such as through quizzes;
  • Questioning workers and supervisors about hazard controls that are in place, including PPE and emergency response procedures; and
  • Ensuring workers and supervisors know how to get more information about controlled products, such as the location of MSDSs in the workplace.

MODEL REVIEW CHECKLIST: Download a Model WHMIS Training Program Review Checklist that you can adapt and use for your review.

What to Do with Results of Review

Just because you’re required to annually review your WHMIS training program doesn’t mean you must annually retrain workers. Rather, the review identifies whether updating the training program or retraining workers is necessary. So if your review reveals that your WHMIS policies, procedures and training are up-to-date and workers and supervisors understand the WHMIS requirements as they relate to your workplace and the controlled products in it, you don’t need to do anything else.

But if the review identifies gaps or problems in your WHMIS program or in workers’ knowledge of WHMIS requirements, then you’ll need to take steps to address those issues. For example, if the review reveals that there are new controlled products in the workplace, you’ll need to get MSDSs for those products, incorporate them and their hazards into your WHMIS training and retrain workers accordingly. However, all changes to the WHMIS program don’t necessarily require retraining of workers. Ontario’s WHMIS guide gives the following example of a circumstance in which retraining wouldn’t be required:

Example: The company gets an updated MSDS for a controlled product that provides new hazard information. Management and the JHSC conclude that the procedures in place already adequately protect workers from this new hazard. So after reviewing the WHMIS training program, they decide to convey this new information to workers by posting the updated MSDS on the safety bulletin board and making announcements about it at toolbox meetings.

BOTTOM LINE

The WHMIS requirements exist to protect workers from exposure to the hazards posed by the many hazardous substances that are often part of the workplace. Because new controlled products may be introduced without fanfare, your WHMIS training program could become outdated very quickly and quietly—and as a result, workers exposed to unknown hazards. So it’s important to review your training program at least annually to ensure that it’s always kept current.

Are Workers Adequately Trained on WHMIS?

Workers who are adequately trained on WHMIS should be able to correctly answer the following four questions:

1) Where can you get hazard information?
2) What are the hazards of the controlled product?
3) How are you protected from those hazards?
4) What do you do in case of an emergency?

 

WHMIS TRAINING PROGRAM REVIEW REQUIREMENTS

Here’s what the laws in each jurisdiction say about WHMIS training programs and reviews of them:

 

REQUIREMENTS

LAW

FED

1) Employers must develop and implement “employee education programs” on hazardous substances, which includes controlled products [Sec. 10.14(1)].

2) In consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative, employers must review this program and, if necessary, revise it:

  a) at least once a year;

  b) whenever there’s a change in conditions with respect to the hazardous substances in the workplace; or

  c) whenever new hazard information with respect to a hazardous substance in the workplace becomes available to the employer [Sec. 10.14(3)].

Canada OHS Regs.

AB

The OHS law doesn’t specifically require review of WHMIS training programs. But the Guide to Part 29 (WHMIS) says that employers must:

  1) have a WHMIS training program for workers;

  2) consult with the JHSC or health and safety representative during the development, implementation and review of this program; and

  3) review the program at least annually, but more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information.

OHS Code 2009

BC

If controlled products are used in the workplace, the employer, in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative, must establish and maintain an effective WHMIS program that:

  1) addresses applicable WHMIS requirements, including education and training; and

  2) is reviewed at least annually or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information [Sec. 5.5].

OHS Reg.

MB

Employers must:

  1) develop and implement a WHMIS training program [Sec. 35.3(1)];

  2) consult the JHSC, health and safety representative or the workers (if there’s no committee or rep) in doing so [Sec. 35.3(2)];

  3) review the worker training program at least once each year or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information. The review must be done in consultation with the JHSC, health and safety representative or the workers (if there’s no committee or rep) [Sec. 35.3(4)].

Workplace Health & Safety Regs.

NB

1) Employers must ensure that a program for worker instruction and training on WHMIS is:

  a) developed and implemented for the workplace;

  b) related to any other hazard prevention and control program in the workplace; and

  c) developed and implemented in consultation with the JHSC, if any, or health and safety representative, if any [Sec. 6(2)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC, if any, or health and safety rep, if any, the WHMIS instruction and training provided to workers [Sec. 6(4)].

WHMIS Reg.

NL

1) Employers must ensure that a program for worker instruction and training on WHMIS is developed and implemented:

  a) for the workplace and related to the workplace’s hazard prevention and control program; and

  b) in consultation with the JHSC, health and safety representative or workplace health and safety designate [Sec. 6(2)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC, health and safety rep or workplace health and safety designate the WHMIS instruction and training provided to workers [Sec. 6(4)].

WHMIS Reg.

NWT/NU

1) Employers must ensure that a program for worker instruction and training on WHMIS is developed and implemented for the workplace:

  a) in a manner that’s related to the workplace’s accident prevention and control program; and

  b) in consultation with the JHSC,  if there is one [Sec. 5(2)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC the WHMIS instruction and training provided to workers [Sec. 5(4)].

WHMIS Regs.

NS

1) Employers must ensure that a program for worker education on WHMIS is developed and implemented:

  a) for the workplace;

  b) in relation to any health or safety hazards that may be met by workers who work with or in proximity to controlled products; and

  c) developed and implemented in consultation with the JHSC, if any [Sec. 5(1)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC, if any, the instruction and training provided to workers concerning controlled products [Sec. 5(3)].

WHMIS Reg.

ON

WHMIS Reg.:

Although the WHMIS Reg. requires employers to develop and implement worker education programs on WHMIS [Sec. 7(2)], it doesn’t require employers to review such programs.

OHS Act:

Employers must:

1) provide instruction and training to workers exposed or likely to be exposed to hazardous materials, which includes controlled products, or hazardous physical agents [Sec. 42(1)];

2) develop and implement such instruction and training in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative, if any [Sec. 42(2)];

3) review in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety rep, if any, such instruction and training at least annually [Sec. 42(3)]; and

4) conduct such reviews more frequently than annually if:

  a) the employer, on the advice of the JHSC or health and safety rep, if any, determines that such reviews are necessary; or

  b) there’s a change in circumstances that may affect the health or safety of a worker [Sec. 42(4)].

WHMIS Reg.; OHS Act

PE

1) Employers must ensure that a program for worker education on WHMIS is developed and implemented:

  a) for the workplace and related to the workplace’s hazard prevention and control program; and

  b) in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative, if any [Sec. 5(2)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC, if any, or health and safety rep, if any, the instruction and training provided to workers concerning controlled products [Sec. 5(4)].

WHMIS Regs.

QC

1) Employers must have a training and information program for all workers who work or are liable to come into contact with a controlled product [Reg., Sec. 54].

2) Employers must implement a training and information program with respect to controlled products. ThisHealth and safety committee.

 program must be established by the JHSC; or if there’s no JHSC, the employer in consultation with the certified association or, if there’s no certified association, with the representative of the workers. The program must be updated each year or where required by circumstancesPrevention program. [Act, Sec. 62.5].

Reg. Respecting Information on Controlled Products; Act respecting occupational health and safety

SK

1) Employers must ensure that required WHMIS training is developed:

  a) for that workplace; and

  b) in consultation with the JHSC, if there’s a committee [Sec. 318(4)].

2) Employers, in consultation with the JHSC, the representative or, where there’s no JHSC or rep, the workers, must review the training provided to workers concerning controlled products at least annually, or more frequently if there’s a change in work conditions or available hazard information [Sec. 318(6)].

OHS Regs.

YT

1) Employers must ensure that a program of worker WHMIS education is developed and implemented:

  a) for the workplace and related to the workplace’s hazard

prevention and control program; and

  b) in consultation with the JHSC, if any, or the health and safety representative, if any [Sec. 5(2)].

2) Employers must review at least annually, or more frequently if required by a change in work conditions or available hazard information, and in consultation with the JHSC, if any, or health and safety rep, if any, the instruction and training provided to workers concerning controlled products [Sec. 5(4)].

WHMIS Regs.

 
 
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