Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) pictograms communicate the hazards associated with hazardous materials in the workplace. 
These pictograms provide a quick and easy way to understand the type of hazard that a particular material presents, as well as any precautions that should be taken when handling it.

The importance of WHMIS pictograms lies in their ability to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. This WHMIS pictogram guide can help you understand all the legal requirements and associated information about these pictograms. 

By providing clear and concise information about the hazards associated with a particular material, workers are better equipped to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others. 

WHMIS pictograms play a pivotal role not only in safeguarding workers but also in ensuring strict adherence to workplace safety regulations.

Many jurisdictions legally mandate that employers provide WHMIS training to their workforce, ensuring comprehension of these vital symbols. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, elevating the risk of workplace accidents and injuries.

What is a Pictogram?

A pictogram is a graphical symbol or icon conveying information or instructions through visual appearance. Pictograms are often used to communicate when language barriers exist or when a quick and easy-to-understand visual representation is needed.

In the context of workplace safety, pictograms are often used to communicate the hazards associated with hazardous materials, as required by regulations such as WHMIS. 

These pictograms use specific shapes and colors to indicate the type of hazard associated with the material, such as fire or explosion, health or environmental hazards. 

Employers can use a standardized set of pictograms in their WHMIS program to ensure that workers understand the risks associated with hazardous materials, regardless of their language or literacy level.

Whmis Pictograms and Their Associated Hazard Classes

Here is a list of the WHMIS pictograms and their associated hazard classes and categories:

1. Flame:

whmis symbol flame

Used to indicate materials that are flammable or combustible, such as fuels, solvents, and gases.

2. Flame Over Circle:

whmis symbol for flame over circle

Used to indicate oxidising materials, meaning they can increase the intensity of a fire or cause one to occur.

3. Gas Cylinder:

whmis pictogram for gas cylinder

Used to indicate materials that are compressed gases, such as propane, helium, and nitrogen.

4. Corrosion:

whmis symbol for corrosion

Used to indicate materials that can cause damage to skin, eyes, or other materials, such as strong acids or bases.

5. Exploding Bomb:

whmis sign for the exploding bomb

Used to indicate materials that are explosive or have the potential to explode, such as dynamite or fireworks.

6. Skull and Crossbones:

whmis sign used to indicate toxic or poisonous materials

Used to indicate toxic or poisonous materials, such as pesticides or some types of cleaning products.

7. Environment:

whmis symbol for enviorment

Used to indicate materials that can cause harm to the environment, such as pollutants or materials that can harm aquatic life.

8. Health Hazard:

whmis symbol used to indicate materials that can cause harm to human health

Used to indicate materials that can cause harm to human health, such as carcinogens or respiratory irritants.

9. Exclamation Mark:

whmis pictogram used to indicate materials that may cause less severe health effects

Used to indicate materials that may cause less severe health effects or physical harm, such as skin irritation or eye irritation.

10. Biohazardous Infectious Materials:

whmis symbol for the used to indicate materials that contain harmful biological agents,

Used to indicate materials that contain harmful biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms.

These pictograms are often seen in medical or laboratory settings.

It is important to note that these pictograms are used with other information, such as product labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS), to communicate the hazards associated with a particular material.

Are Pictograms Mandatory for All WHMIS Hazard Classes and Categories?

Yes, pictograms are mandatory for all WHMIS hazard classes and categories. Using pictograms is required by law to communicate the hazards associated with hazardous materials in the workplace. 

In Canada, the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) require suppliers of hazardous materials to include pictograms on labels and SDSs for all WHMIS hazard classes and categories.

The purpose of using pictograms is to provide a quick and easy way for workers to identify the type of hazard associated with a particular material and any precautions that should be taken when handling it. Using standardised pictograms, workers can quickly recognize the type of hazard without reading through lengthy text descriptions.

It is important to note that the pictograms used for WHMIS are standardised and must follow specific design requirements, such as the shape, colour, and image used for each hazard class and category. 

This ensures that the pictograms are consistent across different suppliers and materials and easily recognizable by workers. Failure to use the correct pictograms or to include them on product labels and SDSs can result in penalties and fines.

Where to Find WHMIS Symbols: A Handy Reference for Workplace Safety

WHMIS pictograms are on product labels, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and other workplace safety materials. It is essential for workers to be familiar with these pictograms and to understand the hazards they represent. Here are some places where workers can find WHMIS pictograms:

Product Labels:

All hazardous products sold or used in Canadian workplaces must have a product label that includes a pictogram to identify the hazards associated with the product. Workers can find the pictogram on the WHMIS label and other important information such as the product name, supplier information, and precautionary measures.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs):

An SDS document provides information about a hazardous product, including its properties, hazards, and safe handling procedures. Pictograms are included on the SDS to help workers identify the hazards associated with the product.

Workplace Posters and Training Materials:

Considering the role of pictograms in WHMIS training, many workplaces will post workplace safety posters and provide training materials that include WHMIS pictograms. These materials can help workers learn about hazard classes, categories, and corresponding pictograms.

Online Resources:

Many online safety courses are available that provide information on WHMIS pictograms and workplace safety. These can include government websites, safety organisations, and training providers. Workers can access these resources to learn more about WHMIS pictograms and how to stay safe in the workplace.

By being familiar with WHMIS pictograms and knowing where to find them, workers can better understand the hazards associated with hazardous materials in the workplace and take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many pictograms are used in WHMIS 2015 and GHS?

There are a total of nine (9) pictograms used in both WHMIS 2015 and GHS.

What is the purpose of the WHMIS pictogram guide?

The purpose of the WHMIS pictogram guide is to provide a visual reference for workers to identify and understand the different types of hazards associated with hazardous materials in the workplace.

What do the different colors of the pictograms mean?

The different colors of the pictograms indicate the type of hazard associated with the material - red for flammability, yellow for reactivity, and blue for health hazards.

Can pictograms be used instead of text on a label or SDS?

No, pictograms cannot be used instead of text on a label or SDS, as both are required to communicate the hazards associated with a hazardous material effectively.

Do all hazard classes and categories require a pictogram?

Not all hazard classes and categories under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) require a pictogram. The GHS specifies various hazard classes and categories for classifying chemicals and hazardous substances, but the need for a pictogram depends on the specific class and category.

Final Words

WHMIS pictograms play a critical role in hazard communication and workplace safety. By using standardised symbols and images to represent different hazard classes and categories, workers can quickly identify the type of hazard associated with a particular material and take appropriate precautions. 

Therefore, it is vital for workers to be familiar with WHMIS pictograms and to understand the hazards they represent to protect themselves and others from harm. 

Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that WHMIS pictograms are used correctly and included on product labels and SDSs for all hazardous materials. 

We hope that our WHMIS pictogram guide can help you stay safe and avoid potential health and safety hazards!