Back to School

Teachers Do YOU Need to Update Your WHMIS?

The end of August is the lead in to the Back to School period that some people dread and some look forward to as the season changes forcing us to let go of the past and prepare for the future.

Many Teachers at all levels contact us to find out whether they need to renew their WHMIS training. WHMIS was originally designed as a way to prevent workers from the many hazards of harmful chemicals. The role of a teacher is much like that of a Supervisor in a workplace who is responsible for their employees; a teacher has a similar responsibility to their students.

Some classrooms may not have much in the way of hazardous products. Even in these situations it is still important for teachers to be able to recognize WHMIS symbols and be able to read WHMIS labels and Safety Data Sheets. Here are the three most frequently asked questions teachers ask us about WHMIS:

  1. Does WHMIS expire?
    If you have taken WHMIS you may notice that your certificate does not have an expiry date (our certificates do not) and from this perspective your WHMIS training does not expire. Many people are asking this question to know if they ever need to take WHMIS again. The simple answer is that WHMIS does not expire – But this does not mean you never have to take it again. You must be knowledgeable on WHMIS and that knowledge must be current to the latest regulations.
  2. Do I need to renew WHMIS each year?
    This question is more difficult to answer. As a teacher there are several people who could tell you that you must take WHMIS each year. The first would be your employer. Based on the hazards in your workplace or if you go on fields trips or off site locations where they can be unknown hazards; and the fact that you are responsible for the well being of your students, your employer could require annual renewals. The second is a provincial workplace health and safety inspector who is responsible for workplace inspections and can prescribe corrective actions which include training/retraining. And the third is anyone at an off-site location where there are hazardous products present and they require everyone in that workplace to be WHMIS trained.
  3. Should students take WHMIS?
    Many high schools and post secondary schools that offer work experience or co-op positions to students will require students to have their WHMIS training prior to being allowed to participate in these work experiences. This is an extension of the teacher's care and control, and the workplace accepting the student worker is also doing their due diligence in allowing them to be in the workplace on the condition that they have had basic WHMIS awareness training, and that someone in that workplace will provide any additional training needed if their role involved handling or working with specific hazardous products. This applies whether the student is being paid or not. Under health and safety regulations, volunteers have the same requirements as employees.

To all teachers ... We thank you for everything you do to prepare the youth of today to be the best they can be tomorrow.

If you do need to renew your WHMIS and get your WHMIS Certificate let us help you to check that item off your To Do List with our easy sign up and online completion. You can enter your school name if you need to and receipts and certificates of completion are emailed to you. And if you are a guidance teacher or look after work experience students contact us as we have a great service and provide that training to many schools, regions and districts.

Even if you are not a fan of cramming – cram what you can into the last few days of summer holidays!