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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Hazardous chemicals in your workplace? 5 ways to prepare for MLITSD inspections

If your workplace uses hazardous chemicals, be prepared for a knock on your door from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD).

The MLITSD will be inspecting workplaces from July 2, 2024 to March 31, 2025 to ensure workers are not exposed to hazardous substances exceeding the occupational exposure limits and are being properly trained on new WHMIS requirements under the amended Hazardous Products Regulations.

The inspections are part of two campaigns to raise awareness about occupational disease and boost compliance with legal requirements for controlling hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace. According to the MLITSD, occupational diseases are the leading cause of worker deaths. Every year, there are approximately four times more deaths from occupational disease than traumatic fatalities.

Occupational illnesses may result from acute and long-term exposures to hazardous chemical agents in the workplace, says Toni Volpato, WSPS Specialized Consultant in Occupational Hygiene. “Controlling these exposures will help lower the risk of workers developing an occupational illness.”

Toni explains what MLITSD inspectors will look for during inspections, and how you can prepare.

What inspectors will look for

The MLITSD’s inspections will focus on ensuring compliance with Ontario Reg. 833, Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents and Regulation 860: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

  • Under Ontario Reg. 833, every employer must take all measures reasonably necessary to protect workers from exposure to hazardous biological or chemical agents (section 3).
    • The regulation specifies the duties of employers, the control measures employers should use to limit exposures, and when a respiratory protection program is required. It also sets out the Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs),” says Toni. “Exposures must be below these levels.”
    • MLITSD inspectors will assess worker exposures to hazardous chemical agents by reviewing work processes, observing work practices, evaluating control measures, and review exposure data. In some cases, air sampling for hazardous chemical agents may be required.
  • Under WHMIS, employers must ensure the safe handling, storage, and use of hazardous products in the workplace, and that containers entering the workplace have a label and are accompanied by a Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
    • MLITSD inspectors will ensure compliance and determine whether retraining of workers is required based on recent amendments to Canada’s Hazardous Products Regulation. “The amendments require suppliers to update information on their labels and SDSs by December 14, 2025,” explains Toni.
    • Employers that receive hazardous products with the new labels and SDSs must retrain workers so they understand the hazards of the products they work with, and know how to protect themselves, says Toni.

5 ways to prepare for an inspection

“The best way to prepare for an inspection and prevent orders is to have comprehensive systems in place to protect workers from chemical exposure,” says Toni.

1. Understand your legal requirements under Regulation 833 and Regulation 860: WHMIS.

2. Use the RACE model to Recognize, Assess, Control and Evaluate the chemical hazards in your workplace. 

Recognize: Determine what chemicals are in your workplace. “Gather information with the help of workers, joint health and safety committee (JHSC), supervisors, and suppliers,” suggests Toni.  Where are the chemicals being stored, handled and disposed of? Who can be exposed to the chemical? How hazardous are the chemicals?

Ensure your hazardous products inventory is accurate. Do you have a SDS for every chemical? Do any of the chemicals have updated labels and SDSs according to the new requirements? Have you provided updated WHMIS training?

Assess: Determine if you are in compliance with the regulations. Is there an occupational exposure limit (OEL) for the chemical(s)? Have you conducted a proper air assessment to determine worker exposure levels? Are exposure levels below the occupational exposure limits?

Control:  Follow the hierarchy of controls to control worker exposures. It includes, in the order of the most effective method of control to the least effective:

      • elimination
      • substitution for a less hazardous chemical
      • engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation systems
      • administrative controls, such as developing and training on safe work practices and limiting exposure time
      • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as respirators, and clothing to protect the skin

Evaluate: Have the controls you’ve put in place reduced exposure levels to below the OELs? Are supervisors/workers content with the changes? Does monitoring by a qualified occupational hygienist need to be done again?

3. Get help if you need it. “If you need assistance with any aspect of your hazardous chemical management system, reach out to to an expert,” says Toni. “At WSPS we have many free resources, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the inspections, as well as qualified occupational hygienists who can answer your questions and provide other services.”

4. Be sure your documentation is ready. Among other things, the inspector may ask for chemical inventory sheets, monitoring reports (including dates), medical surveillance, SDSs, generic and job specific WHMIS training records.

5. Ensure a worker member of the JHSC is available to accompany the inspector on the inspection. “Advise them to answer questions honestly and thoroughly,” says Toni. If a worker representative from the JHSC is not available, another worker will be asked to join them on the inspection.

How WSPS can help

Connect with an occupational hygiene consultant for help understanding regulatory requirements, developing an effective chemical management system and getting ready for an inspection.

New! Inspection Resources


Chemical exposure resources

WHMIS resources

The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.

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Categorized in: WSPS