WHMIS 2015

After more than 25 years, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) has been updated. WHMIS is Canada’s national standard for communicating information about hazardous products in the workplace. It is a globally harmonized system (GHS) of classification and labelling. Safety data sheets can be found in the ChemWatch database.

Who must complete this training?

Any person who works with, or who may be exposed to, a hazardous product (i.e., chemical) in the course of their work is legally required to complete WHMIS training.

Safety Data Sheets

There have been many changes to safety data sheets (SDS), formerly known as material safety data sheets (MSDS).

  • Hazardous products. The University of Ottawa subscribes to the ChemWatch database of more than 13 million safety data sheets (SDS/MSDS) provided by manufacturers of pure compounds, products and mixtures. In addition, ChemWatch provides more than 100,000 ChemGold SDSs, which consolidate chemical hazard information from multiple sources into a single comprehensive document and then distills that information further to create one-page, mini-SDSs or safety summaries. This database enables students and staff to review these SDSs in multiple languages. Access is available on campus networks or via VPN.
  • Biohazardous products. Many laboratory workers, whether in research, public health, teaching, etc., are exposed not only to chemicals, but also to infectious substances. Pathogen Safety Data Sheets (PSDS) are produced for personnel working in the life sciences to serve as quick safety reference material on infectious micro-organisms.


The product (supplier) label serves as one of the primary sources of information about the contents of a container. It is vital that the information depicted be properly understood by end users. The label must be bilingual (French/English) and legible. If the supplier label becomes damaged or unreadable for any reason, the label must be replaced with a workplace label containing the following information:

  1. Product identifier (product name matching that on the SDS),
  2. Information for the safe handling of the product, and
  3. A statement that the SDS is available.

Information for the safe handling of the product refers to precautions that a person must take to minimize potential adverse health effects or injury. These precautions can be conveyed through pictures, words, symbols, or equivalent means, and are usually available on the SDS.

exemple of a whmis label

Hazardous Waste Management

All hazardous materials must be disposed of in accordance with federal, provincial, and municipal regulations. Ontario has a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework to ensure that hazardous wastes are managed in an environmentally safe manner. Through the Environmental Protection Act and accompanying regulations, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has established a cradle-to-grave management system. This system controls collection, storage, transportation, treatment, recovery, and disposal of hazardous waste.

How to dispose of hazardous waste

The Office of the Chief Risk Officer provides collection services for hazardous waste generated as part of regular activities and for special cases that may have additional requirements or restrictions. Hazardous waste is collected directly from the laboratory, brought to a special room housing other such waste, and then disposed of in accordance with applicable regulations. Hazardous waste collection services are free of charge for researchers and are performed regularly.

To submit a request for regular collection of hazardous waste, complete and submit the Hazardous materials technical services - regular collection requestform.

Hazardous Waste Labeling Requirements

Hazardous waste labels must be affixed on all waste containers to inform laboratory researchers and facility services of their contents. Pre-printed labels are available free of charge from the faculty or service and must be attached to the waste container.

The following procedure ensures proper labeling, safe handling, and safe collection of hazardous waste:

  1. Immediately attach a “Déchet Dangereux /Hazardous Waste” label to new containers.
  2. Record the contents added to the container, under the heading “Contenu / Contents”.
  3. Collect inorganic substances separately and do not mix solids with liquids (refer to the hazardous materials waste streams)

Here is an example of a hazardous waste label:

example of a hazardous waste label

Chemical Inventory

The University of Ottawa uses a web-based inventory application known as Vertére to track chemical products.

Hazardous materials are tagged with unique barcode labels that cross-reference their:

  • Storage location
  • Principal Investigator (PI) or supervisor responsible for the item
  • Chemical properties and information
  • SDS-related information through ChemWatch

How to access Vertére

  1. Before you can use the system, you must obtain a login name and password (contact the Vertére administrator to receive your login credentials).
  2. Visit the Vertére login screen
  3. Enter your username and password.
  4. For assistance in using Vertére, please contact your Health Safety and Risk Management office or [email protected].