All About WHMIS Symbols

Those working within a semi-dangerous work environment have probably noticed various signs posted around the business. These WHMIS labels are a requirement of the Occupational Health and Safety organization throughout Canada. Basically, they are in place to ensure workers are operating safely and as thoroughly as possible with the circumstances at hand.

The Symbols Themselves

These WHMIS symbols offer a variety of different warnings. Everything from a hazardous product being produced or manufactured within your workplace to one being transferred through the area. The only situations when such a hazardous symbol is not required, according to the OSH, is when a hazardous material is poured directly into a container and is set to be used immediately or when the substance remains under the control of the individual who transferred or poured the waste material. Any other times, however, and the signs are required to be posted to warn everyone in the immediate vicinity.

Employer Responsibility

According to WHMIS classification, the employer is responsible for ensuring all hazard material within their workplace are properly labeled and prepared in the appropriate manner. Should these directions not be followed correctly, though, the OSH may bring down a massive fine or shut the workplace down until the problem is rectified.

Employees and employers should remember that these safety labels were simply designed to ensure everyone in the work environment is healthy and safe. Each label should include an identifier to reveal what is contained within, a pictogram of the notorious hazard symbol, a signal word to indicate the hazardous nature of the goods, a precautionary statement, and supplemental label information. That sounds like a lot of information, but it is all necessary to ensuring safety and the well-being of workers.

Hazard Statements

The most common WHMIS hazard statements tend to revolve around extremely flammable gas, contents under pressure that may explode if heated to a certain point, a substance that remains fatal if inhaled, causes eye irritation, or could potentially cause cancer in those who come into contact with the hazardous material. Proper eyewear, safety clothing, and safety precautions are necessary and required to operate within the vicinity or to handle such materials.

Any workplace handling materials deemed hazardous by the OHS are required to educate and train those working on-site in the safe handling and transport of such materials. Possible exposure and what would happen if one is exposed to the material generally needs to be taught so everyone understands the risks involved.

Should any of the aforementioned be forgotten in a work environment, OHS should be notified immediately to bring the workplace up to compliance and keep everyone working safely and efficiently. An injury seriously puts a damper on productivity. It may be worthwhile to visit ICC Compliance Center for more information.

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