The employer has a general duty to educate workers who are exposed or likely to be exposed to a controlled product on the job [section 42(1) of the Act].
In addition, the employer is obligated to consult the joint health and safety committee if there is one, or a worker health and safety representative, about the content and delivery of the education program [section 42(2) of the Act].
What information should the employer provide to workers?
If the controlled product is purchased from a supplier, the employer should inform the worker about all hazard information received from the supplier. In general, this means the information provided on supplier labels and data sheets, but it can also include other information such as letters from the supplier in response to inquiries from the employer. The employer should also pass on to workers any other hazard information that the employer is or ought to be aware of [section 6(1) of the regulation].
If the controlled product is produced in the workplace, the employer should inform the workers about all hazard information of which the employer is aware, or ought to be aware [section 6(2) of the regulation].
What does "information the employer ought to be aware of" mean?
For the purpose of interpreting what information the employer "ought to be aware of", the following are considered to be sources of occupational health and safety information that the employer should know about:
It is not expected that the employer would have to consult all of the above sources, nor is the employer limited to the above.
What specific topics or areas must be covered in a worker education program?
The worker education program must cover the following 6 areas [section 7(1) of the regulation]:
Does the education program have to include instruction on every controlled product in the workplace?
No. Under the WHMIS Regulation, so-called "generic instruction" is permitted. Generic instruction refers to the instruction of workers without reference to specific controlled products or workplaces.
Generic instruction is acceptable in the following cases:
Who needs to be educated?
The law requires that the employer educate "a worker exposed or likely to be exposed" to a controlled product [section 42(1) of the Act]. The phrase "a worker exposed or likely to be exposed" is open to interpretation and may cause problems for the workplace parties and for regulators when determining the actual number of workers to be educated.
The following points are suggested as guidelines when determining who needs to be educated.