Skip to main content



In 1987 the Federal and Ontario governments passed legislation to implement the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, or WHMIS  This system is designed to give workers the right-to-know about hazardous materials to which they may be exposed to in the workplace.  Within the University setting the term 'workers' includes all employees, who by the nature of their positions, may be exposed to hazardous materials which may be detrimental to their health.  The right-to-know about exposure potential and control is achieved through the provision of information communicated through labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and training programs.

The legislation is not applicable to students, but as with other occupational health and safety regulations, it is assumed that the spirit and intent of WHMIS should be incorporated within teaching and learning activity.

The regulations applicable to importers, manufacturers and suppliers of hazardous materials are quite specific.  Each of the products must be distinctly identified with a supplier label, the design and content of which is prescribed by regulation to ensure uniformity across Canada.  The supplier must also provide to the user of hazardous products, a MSDS, the content of which is also prescribed by regulation.  These sheets must be less than three years old.

WHMIS identifies potentially hazardous materials as those which:

1.         Have properties specific to hazard criteria classified by the WHMIS Steering Committee accordingly:


Class A


Compressed gases


Class B


Flammable and combustible materials including:  flammable gas; flammable liquid; combustible liquid; flammable solid; flammable aerosol; reactive flammable material


Class C


Oxidizing material


Class D


Poisonous and Infectious material including: toxic and very toxic material; bio-hazardous infectious material


Class E


Corrosive material


Class F


Dangerously reactive material


2.        Contain a hazardous ingredient as disclosed on the hazardous ingredient list formulated by the WHMIS Steering Committee;

3.         Are of unknown toxicity; and/or

4.         Are thought to be hazardous by the supplier or manufacturer.


In accordance with the University Environmental Health and Safety System policy, a system of organization, leadership and participation to ensure risk management shall be facilitated through the establishment and maintenance of specific compliance and prevention policies and programs.  With the objective of managing the risks associated with the use, handling and storage of hazardous materials and meeting the specific requirements set out in corresponding regulations, the University has established WHMIS standards, responsibilities, procedures and performance measures.  It is the responsibility of all employees to promote and sustain a culture of due diligence in the area of risk management, thereby strengthening our capacity to consistently support the University mission.


A WHMIS program shall be established and supported by the following standing principles:

1.         All legislation governing WHMIS and the control of chemical, biological and physical agents shall be complied with, and its related standards and guidelines adopted as minimum requirements.

2.         All workplace parties have specific legal duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to participate in the identification and control of workplace hazards.  The WHMIS program is designed to incorporate these duties and every individual working within the University shall share responsibility for maintaining and promoting its safe work practices and procedures

3.         To ensure the effectiveness of the University Environmental Health and Safety System, the WHMIS program shall be evaluated through formal surveys in consultation with the Occupational Health and Safety Committee.


This policy applies to all employees of Ryerson University, including faculty, instructors, academic and administrative support staff, senior administrators, the executive, and any other individuals, using, handling, storing or working in close proximity to hazardous materials within University facilities.

Roles and Responsibilities

As detailed in Environmental Health and Safety System policy, responsibility for the safe handling, storage and use of hazardous materials is shared by all employees of the University including faculty, instructors, academic and administrative support staff, senior administrators and the executive.

All department heads are responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the WHMIS program within their respective areas are met.  Those individuals, such as faculty, instructors, and principle investigators, directly supervising any activity or individual who may be exposed to hazardous materials shall instruct these individuals on the necessary right to know and protective measures specific to the associated hazards.  All individuals using, handling, storing or working in close proximity to hazardous materials must demonstrate competency in all WHMIS related measures.


This policy shall be under the jurisdiction of the Vice President, Administration and Finance.  The application and interpretation of this policy and associated procedures is the responsibility of the Department of Integrated Risk Management (IRM).