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Vancouver Coastal Health is a centre of excellence, both nationally and internationally, providing a broad scope of specialized training and education - with our academic partners - for students and practitioners from all healthcare disciplines.

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Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

WHMISWorkplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) is a way to provide Canadian workers with information about the safety and health hazards of materials used in the workplace. WorkSafeBC requires WHMIS education training be provided to all employees (and thus students) exposed, or who may be exposed, to hazardous chemical or biological substances.

This information is conveyed by:

  • Product Labels
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
  • Education/Training

WHMIS classes of hazardous products and the symbols found on product labels are described below. You must be able to recognize a symbol and what it means in order to ensure a safe work environment.

Online MSDS Database - Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available online to find more information on controlled products within the workplace. MSDS provides information such as safe handling and storage, first aid measures and what to do in the event of a spill. (link address: )

Online WHMIS Training - Online Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) training is made available so workers become informed on how to safely handle hazardous materials within the workplace. The training includes responsibilities, how to identify hazards and find more information on a product, labeling, and MSDS. Each user must create an account (select your own user ID and password) before access is provided to the course. (link address:

If you have any questions about the products that you are working with, you can refer to the Material Safety Data Sheets [MSDS] online data base, the label, your supervisor or Occupational Health & Safety for more information.

Symbols for WHMIS classes of hazardous products

Class A - Compressed Gas
Compressed Gas
A product contained under pressure which meets other criteria, for example, critical temperature (the temperature above which a gas can no longer be pressurized into a liquid).
Class B - Flammable and Combustible material
Flammable and Combustible material
Class B materials are determined by how readily a substance burns and what form
(solid, liquid, aerosol) it is in.
Class C - Oxidizing material
Oxidizing material
May be an organic peroxide or cause the combustion of another material by yielding oxygen or any other oxidizing substance, whether or not the product is itself combustible.
Class D - Poisonous and infectious material
Division 1 - Poisonous and infectious material
Materials causing immediate and serious toxic effect through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through skin.
Division 2 - Poisonous and infectious material
Materials causing other toxic effects, such as alteration in genetic material, sensitization, and cancer.
Division 3 - Poisonous and infectious material
Biohazardous infectious material, which applies to organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Class E - Corrosive material
Corrosive material
Corrosivity of material is determined by the amount of tissue damage to the skin or damage to metal.
Class F - Dangerously reactive material
Dangerously reactive material
Dangerously reactive materials can react to water, or can react if temperature, pressure, or a shock is applied to the material.

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