The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada's national standard for communicating information about hazardous workplace products.

WHMIS is incorporated into the Occupational Health and Safety Act and is law in the province of Ontario. This legislation states that if you work with, or in proximity to controlled products, the employer must ensure the information you need to work safely with those hazardous products is available to you and understood.

See the WHMIS 2015 Program for more information.


All University of Waterloo employees are required to complete the WHMIS 2015 (SO2017) online training module. 

Chemical labelling requirements

Laboratories are required to have readable chemical labels as per WHMIS 2015 to ensure that hazard information is provided to their workers/students in an understandable manor. To meet these requirements, laboratories should:

  • Take the opportunity to discard of old chemicals that have will not be used with non-complaint or illegible labels, rather than take the manpower to relabel them. Contact esf@uwaterloo.ca if you expect to be discarding large quantities of chemicals. More information is available on our Hazardous Waste Website.
  • Any bottles that are too damaged for safe use must be disposed off. 
  • Remember that only some bottles need relabelling. These are:
    • Bottles labelled prior to WHMIS 2015 (The suppliers were legally required to have their labels transitioned to WHMIS 2015 by December 1, 2018)
    • Bottles with illegible labels
    • Bottles with incorrect labels / pictograms (see our Evaluating Pictogram Types for more information)
    • Non-hazardous chemicals do not need relabelling. Non hazardous chemical will include statements on the SDS such as 'Based on available data, the classification criteria are not met' or 'Not a hazardous substance or mixture.'

Making custom labels in Microsoft Word

When chemicals are found on campus without compliant labels, a new workplace label must be made. The following templates can be used to create labels based on Avery labels. The laboratory can fill out the completed templates with the information needed for their chemicals and email it to the safety office at chemsafety@uwaterloo.ca for printing.