Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)



Collins Safety Services Ltd. management will ensure that all hazardous materials stored, used, transported, or disposed of by company personnel are identified and labelled in accordance with applicable legislation. This includes Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), and the Waste Management Act (WMA). All information regarding hazardous materials will be made readily available to workers exposed to such materials by providing a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) file for all work locations where hazardous materials are used, handled or stored. 

Management will ensure all employees using or handling hazardous material­s have been trained in hazard recognition, and safe handling, use, storage, transportation and/or disposal pro­cedures as may be required.
The information and training regarding hazardous materials will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Supervisory staff is responsible for ensuring that workers who use, handle, transport or dispose hazardous materials have been adequately trained to recognize standard hazard symbols and safe handling/transportation information such as risk phrases, first aid measures and appropriate protective measures as required by law. Supervisory staff is also responsible for ensuring that sufficient labelling, MSDS and protective equipment are available at work locations to meet regulated requirements.

Workers are responsible for following procedures and instructions provided for safe use, handling, storage, transport and disposal of hazardous products. Lastly, workers are responsible for reporting containers that are unlabelled, illegibly labelled or incorrectly labelled.  Worksite first aid attendants will maintain an up-to-date controlled material file on site. First aid attendants must be aware of the emergency first aid procedures required for workers who may have been overexposed to hazardous materials at their worksites.

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 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 labelling
  • Material safety data sheets
  • Worker education and training programs


On the basis of WHMIS and other workplace information, Collins Safety Services Ltd. 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:

  • To check ethers and other chemicals with limited shelf life.
  • To remove surplus hazardous chemicals
  • To remove chemicals that you would not or have not used in the past 1-3 years.
  • To correct incompatible storage.
  • To identify which chemicals are present.


WHMIS Program

Collins Safety Services Ltd. implements the WHMIS program using information provided through WHMIS as well as other information from the workplace. WHMIS information is in the form of labelling and material safety data sheets. Other workplace information includes knowledge of the hazards of the workplace, use of hazardous materials that depend upon factors such as quantities used, work processes and work location.

To assist in the implementation of this WHMIS program, each employer/contractor will:

  • Assign responsibility for program implementation within their company.
  • Establish an inventory of controlled products.
  • Collect data on products produced in the workplace and determine if they are controlled or not.
  • Ensure that WHMIS labelling and data sheets are in place and submitted to superintendent or safety officer.
  • Provide workplace labelling where required for all products used within their scope.
  • Prepare material safety data sheets and appropriate labels for controlled products produced in the workplace.
  • Determine the hazards of controlled products in the workplace.


Workplace Controls

Each employer shall establish workplace controls, based on hazard evaluations, which could include:

  • Engineering controls: ie/ ventilation, process modification and isolation of the source.
  • Administrative controls: ie/ work procedures, storage arrangements, maintenance and time scheduling.
  • Personal protective equipment used only in situations where other controls are not practicable.
  • Establish emergency procedures
  • First aid measures
  • Fire-fighting/evacuation measures (notify fire departments of hazardous materials).
  • Procedures to handle spills or accidental release.
  • Provide worker education and training.


All employers are to ensure their employees have received WHMIS training. All supervisors and employees are to monitor products/materials arriving on site for WHMIS Labels. Product/materials displaying ‘WHMIS Labels’ indicate they are ‘Controlled Products’ and must be accompanied by ‘Material Safety Data Sheets’ (MSDS).  These products/materials are not to be used until the MSDS is available on site.

Prior to use of the ‘Controlled Product’, the Supervisor/Foreman will review the WHMIS Label and MSDS and advise his/her employees of the safe work procedures to be followed. The Site Safety Officer shall keep a record of all hazardous products on site. 

Copies of MSDS are to be given to the Project Superintendent prior to the use of the product/material in accordance with Government Regulations. This will enable the Project Superintendent to coordinate work procedures for all trades on site. MSDS information records must not be older than three years from the date they were developed.


Environmental Protection


Collins Safety Services Ltd. is dedicated to act responsibly and demonstrate accountable management of the property and affairs of their projects with regards to protecting the environment. All employers, contractors and individuals associated with each project respectively shall share this responsibility for protecting the environment.
The Purpose of this Environmental Protection Program is to:

  • ensure compliance with all applicable environmental regulations at all sites of activity.
  • meet all legislated requirements as a minimum standard.
  • provide communication and education about environmental issues.
  • provide a framework for establishing procedures that will ensure consistent response to environmental issues.
  • demonstrate responsibility and due diligence


Worker Responsibilities

The responsibility of every worker, employee, or staff member is to:

  • minimize environmental impact by participating in a Reduce, Reuse Recycle program.
  • follow established Collins Safety Services Ltd. or regulatory procedures and policies for the protection of the environment.
  • report to their supervisor all accidents/incidents which may harm the environment.



The environmental impact of all new projects or activities shall be assessed at the Pre-Construction planning stage. Ongoing monitoring will be conducted throughout the project by site management. Where possible, efforts will be taken to minimize any adverse impacts. Contractors and/or employers shall follow the guidelines set out by site management with respect to policies and procedures for waste management and environmental concerns.   


Handling and Disposal

Disposal of hazardous wastes will be conducted in accordance with all applicable regulation, legislation and/or city bylaws that govern the area. All individuals handling hazardous materials or conducting activities that could impact the environment must be trained. Training records are to be documented and maintained up to date.

Waste Management


Collins Safety Services Ltd. personnel will not knowingly assign any worker to a location or task where there is a hazardous waste contaminant without providing the worker(s) with adequate instruction and direction regarding the hazard and appropriate protection. If waste contaminants pose a serious risk to personnel, then site remediation may be required before work can start. If site remediation is required Collins Safety Services Ltd. will work closely with the site owner and Ministry of Environment personnel.

Any hazardous wastes produced on site must be properly identified, stored and disposed of in consultation with site owners and with Ministry representatives for proper disposal of these materials. MSDS for the hazardous materials will need to be available on site.

Workers will be informed of the hazards and proper precautions to take. Workers must follow these precautions and use all required protective equipment when handling or working around hazardous wastes.

Exposure Control


If a worker may be exposed to a harmful substance, the employer must ensure that:

  • A walk through is conducted to assess the potential for overexposure, taking into account all routes of exposure including inhalation, ingestion and skin contact;
  • Reassessment is conducted when there is a change in work conditions which may increase the exposure, such as a change in production rate, process or equipment.


An exposure control plan is required:

In general when:

  • Exposure monitoring indicates that a worker is or may be exposed to an air contaminant in excess of 50% of its exposure limit
  • Measurement is not possible at 50% of the applicable exposure limit
  • Otherwise as required by WORKSAFE BC


Specifically for possible exposure to:

  • asbestos
  • blood borne pathogens or bio-hazardous materials
  • silica
  • lead
  • extreme heat or cold


Concrete Grinding

An Exposure Control Plan may also be required for concrete grinding, cutting or coring. All concrete grinders must have an attached functioning vacuum system.
This is a recognized “Engineering Control” system commonly used in this industry.


Contractors and their employees are expected to follow a hierarchical process regarding this matter which is as follows:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering Controls
  • Administrative Controls
  • Personal Protective Equip


Employers / contractors who are required to develop Exposure Control Plans as per regulation must include the following (when applicable):

  • Purpose and Responsibility  
  • Risk Identification Assessment and Control
  • Education and Training                    
  • Written Work Procedures    
  • Hygiene Facilities               
  • Health Monitoring
  • Documentation


Please provide the Project Superintendent with a copy of your Exposure Control Plan prior to beginning the work.


The exposure control plan must be written and include the following:

  1. A statement of purpose and responsibilities for assessing the risks and controlling the exposure(s).
  2. Details on the identification of the risks, the assessments to be performed and/or that have been performed, and the control measures taken to limit exposure.
  3. Details on the education and training that are to be provided.
  4. The written procedures that have been produced (as may be required) to inform personnel about hazards and establish safe work methods.
  5. Details on the documentation that is required (such as records) to ensure that the issues are addressed as required by regulation and good management practice.
  6. A review, at least annually, and regular updates as may be necessary.  This will be done in consultation with the occupational health and safety representative(s) or committee(s)

During the course of projects there will be the need to address certain occupational hygiene health issues on a relatively on-going basis, e.g., noise exposure and hearing conservation program. Other health issues may be a rare or one-time occurrence, e.g., working with or around asbestos. The following guidelines for occupational hygiene initiatives focuses on the common health concerns, with basic information provided on other less frequent health issues for awareness purposes.  All personnel must be aware of these issues and initiatives. If for any reason you feel that they are not being addressed as per the guidelines provided, or you have other occupational hygiene health concerns, raise them with your supervisor so they can be addressed.

Blood Borne Pathogens


First-Aid Attendants and employees are to be aware of potential exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens (blood, body fluids and feces). Every person in the general population is subject to potential exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens. The First-Aid Attendant as well as other “Professional Emergency Workers has occupational “reasonably anticipated exposure” to Bloodborne Pathogens.

Measures are to be taken to limit occupational exposure to blood, body fluids and other potentially infectious materials since exposure could result in transmission of Bloodborne pathogens which could lead to disease or death.

The following are basic requirements for First Aid Attendants and all Employees that may come into contact with Bloodborne Pathogens:


  • A type of waterproof gloves must be worn whenever there is the likelihood of hand contact with blood or other potentially infectious material. Disposable gloves must be changed when soiled or damaged. “Many Emergency Workers wear double gloves to reduce the likelihood of blood contact when removing gloves.”
  • Masks, Eye Protection and Face Shields are to be worn when there is a potential for splashing or spraying of blood or other potentially infectious material.
  • Gowns and plastic aprons must be disposed of in double plastic garbage bags. These bags are to be tied securely prior to removal and transport to waste containers. Bio-hazardous wastes include any bandages, used first aid supplies, and used disposable wipes and towels.
  • Take particular care not to cut or puncture your own skin with any sharp object that may be contaminated.
  • Use sterile disposable needles and scalpel blades when necessary to remove slivers or other minor foreign objects that are within the scope of treatment by a First-Aid Attendant.
  • Absolutely Ensure Sterilization of any first aid instruments, tools and/or supplies that have been contaminated with blood, body fluids or feces.
  • Hands must be washed after gloves are used.
  • In the event of direct body contact with blood or other body fluids: Immediately wash skin with germicidal soap and running water and then apply a liberal coating of alcohol gel.
  • Complete an Accident Report Form and make an entry in the Accident Records.
  • Arrange an appointment to see your physician or other health care professional should you desire blood testing.
  • Any specific eye, mouth, other mucous membrane or non-intact skin contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials is considered an exposure incident. Follow the steps outlined above. Prompt medical attention and blood testing is recommended.




Lead is an element that has been used in many forms over a number of centuries.  It is most commonly encountered in the construction industry as lead-based paint.  Lead compounds include metallic lead, lead alloys, lead oxide, and lead sulphate. Lead is still used industrial paints (e.g., red lead oxide primer).


Respiratory Protection


Protecting workers from hazardous substances can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  • substituting a safer substance;
  • engineering controls (i.e. ventilation systems);
  • administrative controls (i.e. scheduling or worker rotation); and
  • personal protective equipment (i.e. gloves and respirators).

Personal protective equipment is generally considered by WORKSAFE BC to represent the last line of defence and will only be utilized after considering and discarding the practicality of the other methods.

Temperature Extremes - Cold


Assessing for exposure to cold temperatures is very similar to the methodology used to assess exposure to heat extremes. The need for assessment is entirely dependent upon the temperatures that the personnel will be exposed to, and whether or not there is a danger of the occurrence of either:

  • Hypothermia – a lowering of the body core temperature below 36oC.  Personnel are most often at risk of hypothermia in conditions when they are wet, the ambient temperature is near or below 0oC, and they are exposed to a wind.  Submersion in cold water can bring on severe hypothermia very rapidly.
  • Frostbite – a freezing of parts of the body.  The face, hands and feet are the body parts most easily affected.  There is a danger of frostbite if temperatures are below -1oC and flesh is unprotected.  Contact with cold surfaces in sub-zero temperatures can cause frostbite to occur very quickly.


To determine the appropriate course of action when evaluating cold exposure:

1. Determine if personnel will be exposed to conditions that may result in either hypothermia or frostbite. If not, then cold stress is not an issue. If so, go to step 2

2. Determine if the cold exposures will be below -1oC and have the potential to result in frostbite. If yes, then determine under what conditions, time of year, weather conditions, work areas, tasks, and personnel affected, etc. that this exposure may occur.

3. Determine under what conditions hypothermia is likely to be an issue.  Include the time of year, weather conditions, work areas, tasks, personnel affected, etc.

4. Take actions to control the exposure through:

  • engineering such as eliminating the need to work where there is cold exposure, heating the work areas, etc.
  • administrative controls such as work procedures/instructions, work/rest cycles that reduce exposure times, and re-warming especially of the hands when the work requires exposing the hands to cold conditions.
  • personal protective equipment such as warm clothing and protection of the face, hands and feet in extreme temperatures


5. Also take the following actions as required by the OHSR and good management practice

6. Provide a re-warming facility, which can be a heated vehicle

7. Provide eye protection where there is a hazard to the eyes from ultraviolet light, glare or ice crystals

8. Provide opportunities to change into dry clothing if the worker becomes wet or is immersed in cold water

9. Post warning signs in areas where and when there is a risk of cold exposure

10. Educate and train workers & supervisors about:

  • signs & symptoms of cold related disorders
  • appropriate clothing for work in cold environments
  • proper re-warming procedures
  • good eating and drinking practices for maintaining body heat in cold environments
  • safe work practices for the work that is to be performed
  • responsibilities for leaving cold environments at the first signs of a cold related disorder
  • methods to reduce the effects of working in a cold environment including steps to be taken to reduce or eliminate contact with cold surfaces that could result in frostbit
  • appropriate clothing for work in cold environments
  • proper re-warming procedures
  • good eating and drinking practices for maintaining body heat in cold environments
  • safe work practices for the work that is to be performed
  • responsibilities for leaving cold environments at the first signs of a cold related disorder
  • methods to reduce the effects of working in a cold environment including steps to be taken to reduce or eliminate contact with cold surfaces that could result in frost

11. Keep records of the cold stress assessment and education/training provided

12. Remove cold stress victims from the area immediately and provide first aid treatment by a Level 2 or 3 attendant or physician

Temperature Extremes - Heat


The need for assessing exposure to heat is entirely dependent upon the temperature in the work area.

To assess the potential risks from heat exposure and determine the appropriate course of action:

1. Assess the work activities that will take place and determine if they will be light, moderate or heavy. Also determine how long personnel will be exposed to the hot environment. This process will give an indication on whether or not further evaluation and controls are necessary. If not, then heat stress is not an issue.  If so, go to step 2.

2. Determine if the exposure will be one time, infrequent or a regular occurrence. If it will be an on-going type of exposure an exposure control plan is required as per regulations.

3. Take actions to control the exposure (when not practicable by engineering controls) through:

    1. administrative controls such as work procedures/instructions and work/rest cycles
    2. personal protective equipment such as reflective clothing, or air or water cooled clothing


4. Also take the following actions as required by the OHSR and good management practice:

    1. provide cool potable water close to the work area and encourage frequent water intake
    2. post warning signs in high heat stress areas
    3. educate and train workers & supervisors about signs & symptoms of heat related disorders, responsibilities for leaving hot environments at the first signs of a heat related disorder, and methods to reduce the effects of working in a hot environment

5. Keep records of the heat stress assessment and education/training provided

6. Remove heat stress victims from the area immediately and provide first aid treatment by a Level 2 or 3 attendant or physician

Top of page