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Education and training under WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) can be thought of as two separate parts. Education refers to the instruction of workers in general information such as how WHMIS works and the hazards of controlled products. Training refers to the instruction in site-specific information such as work and emergency procedures. Both education and training are an important part of understanding the hazards that may be present at your workplace.
Yes. All Canadian jurisdictions require that employers develop, implement, and maintain a worker education program that will enable workers to work safely with hazardous chemicals. Instruction on requirements for labels and data sheets, information on how product may affect the workers health or safety as well as training in safe work procedures are necessary. The employer has the general responsibility to provide all hazard information possible either from suppliers, or information the employer is, or ought, to be aware of. This duty is largely accomplished through education and training programs offered on a regular basis.
The specific WHMIS education and training requirements are regulated by each occupational health and safety jurisdiction. You should contact the Labour Branch of Human Resources Development Canada if you work in a federal workplace, or the regulating body in your provincial and territorial jurisdictions to determine the exact nature of their WHMIS requirements. This outline is intended for general information purposes only.
While the specific details of what to teach will vary from workplace to workplace, common objectives for any training program remain the same. The overall goal is to give the workers knowledge and information which they can understand and apply to protect their health and safety every day.
For example: it is not enough for a worker to know that the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) suggests a particular type of respirator for protection against certain product. The worker must know where to get the respirator, locations in the plant where its use is mandatory, how to test it for fit, and where necessary, how to maintain and store it. A successful program gives the worker the ability to use safe procedures with a controlled product and the understanding of why such procedures are necessary.
Very simply, training typically has two parts:
Instruction is not only based on the information contained in labels and data sheets but also on the conditions in the workplace such as the likelihood of exposure to the product and the corrective measures to be taken. The level of training will depend on the nature of the work.
For example: maintenance persons will require instruction on working with chemicals, various processes and much more. Office workers in the same facility likely only need training in emergency procedures.
At the end of the education and training program, a worker should have the ability to answer four general questions: