We have all heard the term WHMIS and maybe the term MSDS. They are an integral part of worker safety in the workplace. Unfortunately many people outside of the site safety committees are aware of these two important aspects.
WorkSafeBC defines the purpose of WHMIS "...is to reduce injury and disease by communicating specific health and safety information about controlled products so the information can be used to reduce exposure to hazardous materials." To this end, WorkSafeBC publishes a list of six classifications. A product is classified then three elements are used to communicate health and safety information: WHIMS labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and WHMIS education and training programs.
In every school and work site, WHMIS and MSDS posters should be clearly displayed. During inspections we often find these posters displayed in the custodian's room. In fact they should be displayed on the Health and Safety bulletin board for all workers to see. Many times during school inspections we find products in classrooms, staff rooms and offices that are restricted by WHMIS regulations. Staff will bring in a cleaning product, for instance to ensure the cleanliness of an area. They get upset when we remove the offending product. However, if you keep in mind that the regulations are for your protection and the protection of ALL people in the work site, in this case students, you will appreciate the removal of the product. The school district will provide you with appropriate cleaning products for any surface you want cleansed. If an outbreak, such as the H1N1, a special bleach product will be used by the janitorial staff to disinfect the work site. If you are unsure of a product you brought in, always check with your custodian.
A reminder to all GVTA health and safety representatives, the training day for us February 9th at SJ Willis. The day will start at 8:30 and finish at 3:00pm. A lunch will be provided probably soup and sandwiches. The topic of the day will be inspections and an inspection of the site wil be done to allow practice of the skills presented. If you are unable to attend and another teacher wishes to go please send him or her. We have requested this training and want to get a good turnout. If you are attending please let Janet Langston know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, be safe out there!