WHMIS Certificate: How to Get Yours Quickly and Effectively
“How to get your WHMIS certificate” is one of the most searched keyword phrases in Google relating to WHMIS. It’s not surprising since nearly all Canadian workers will be required to take WHMIS training and get their WHMIS certificate at some point during their career. In many cases, Canadian workers are required to take WHMIS training on a regular basis, and continue to “renew” their WHMIS certificate every one to two years.
In many workplaces throughout Canada, employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals either frequently or infrequently. In some cases, a single exposure can result in serious injury, illness, and even death. When you consider the risk of working around hazardous products, requiring workers to maintain their WHMIS certificate through regular training is not an unreasonable expectation. Bottom line is that WHMIS training contributes to reduced injuries, illness, and fatalities.
Let’s examine things a bit more closely and figure out what the requirements are for getting a WHMIS certificate.
What Exactly is a WHMIS Certificate?
Before we continue, it’s helpful to clarify what exactly a WHMIS certificate is.
A WHMIS certificate is simply a document that indicates an individual has received some form of WHMIS information, instruction or training. The intention of a WHMIS certificate is to “certify” that the individual named on it is knowledgeable in the WHMIS topics presented.
WHMIS certificates come in many different forms. The two most common types are in the form of an 8.5 X 11-inch document and a wallet card.
WHMIS Certificates in the form of wallet cards are very convenient since they can be carried around more easily than a large 8.5 x 11 document. This is especially important if your employer or local jurisdiction’s health and safety organization requires that you carry the document with you while working.
Additionally, WHMIS certificates can be physical documents or in some form of electronic format. WHMIS certificates which are issued for WHMIS training taken online are usually in PDF format.
WHMIS certificates are also sometimes called different names including WHMIS card, WHMIS paper, and even WHMIS license. Regardless of what they’re called, as mentioned, there are simply meant to “certify” that the individual named on the certificate is knowledgeable in WHMIS.
Are All WHMIS Certificates Created Equal?
Does having any old WHMIS certificate satisfy the many requirements surrounding WHMIS? The answer is no.
There are currently several different methods for getting your WHMIS certificate, and most revolve around receiving some type of information, instruction, training, and education. There are many factors that affect the quality of WHMIS training that you can take.
It’s important that regardless of the method you choose, you be very selective, and ensure that you receive training that is of a very high quality.
If you’re taking the training with your employer, be sure to ask a lot of questions, and be actively involved during the training.
If you’re taking the training from an external provider, make sure that they’re reputable, and that their training is current and up to date. This is extremely important since WHMIS was updated in February of 2015 after Canada integrated GHS into the system. After the update, WHMIS started to be referred to as WHMIS 2015.
All the components of the new WHMIS 2015 must be included in any training that you receive. Moreover, since there is a transition period that will last until 2018, components from the old system (now referred to as WHMIS 1988) can still be found in the workplace. This means that you must also receive training on WHMIS 1988 as well.
For WHMIS training to be effective, and to receive a reputable WHMIS certificate, it must contain information from both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015, among other things.
Specific Ways to Get Your WHMIS Certificate
Adequate WHMIS Training and Education is required to get a legitimate WHMIS certificate. Of course, there are MANY different methods and sources of WHMIS training and the method that you choose to get your WHMIS certificate is dependent on many factors.
Here are some of the most common methods of training that can result in you receiving your WHMIS certificate.
Classroom-based WHMIS Training
Classroom-based WHMIS training is one of the most traditional methods of obtaining your WHMIS certificate. This type of training usually takes place in either the workplace or at the location of an external training provider. It often contains lecture components and is supplemented with some type of presentation media such as a PowerPoint presentation.
If facilitated correctly, this method of WHMIS training can be very effective. Classroom-based WHMIS training works best when high-quality supplementary training materials are used, and especially when participants are engaged throughout the sessions. A workshop format that encourages group discussion revolving on workplace specific applications are ideal.
There are some downfalls associated with classroom-based WHMIS training. On of the main downfalls is that it usually takes much longer than some of the new methods of training. Some WHMIS training classes can take up to eight hours to complete effectively.
Another downfall is the difficulties in making workers available for classroom sessions without disrupting operations. It can be very difficult to schedule training that includes all required personnel. This results in the necessity to put on many sessions to ensure everyone is trained and can result in workers being missed.
Consistency can also be an issue with classroom-based training. Even when using the same instructor for each training session, it’s difficult to deliver the same, consistent message to each group of participants. This can be improved when using high-quality supplementary WHMIS training materials.
Video-based WHMIS Training
Many companies use video-based WHMIS training to certify their workers in WHMIS. Video-based WHMIS training can be very effective if using a high-quality video that is compliant, and up to the current standard. Remember, any WHMIS training must now include information on both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015.
Video-based WHMIS training can typically be done quicker than classroom-based training if it uses established instructional design methods.
As with every method, video-based WHMIS training has its downfalls. For instance, it lacks the interactivity that comes with high-quality classroom-based training or some of the newer online WHMIS training courses.
If you choose to get your WHMIS certificate via video-based training, make sure that it’s modern, up to date, and covers both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015.
Self-Teach WHMIS Training
Self-teach programs are usually in the form of a WHMIS workbook or manual that a learner is required to complete on their own. The effectiveness of self-teach programs can vary depending on a lot of factors. One challenge is ensuring that participants remain motivated while reviewing the content. This can be accomplished by using high-quality WHMIS self-teach content that engages participants. It must also not be complex.
This method is sometimes combined with classroom-based training to create a blended approach. This works well as it has the benefits of both, but eliminates some of the downfalls. For instance, an instructor is available to answer questions immediately and can help to keep the participant engaged while they review the material.
This method tends to result in “lingering” and prolonged learning. If you use this method to obtain your WHMIS certificate, you should complete the training in a reasonable amount of time.
Online WHMIS Training
Online WHMIS training is quickly becoming one of the most popular and convenient methods for receiving your WHMIS certificate. The many benefits include very reasonable pricing, the ability to take the training at your own pace, the ability to take the training from anywhere, and instantly accessing your WHMIS certificate once your successfully complete the training. Many online WHMIS training courses can be completed in 60 – 90 minutes.
Again, as with all methods, there are downfalls with online training as well.
One downfall is the difficulty in choosing from the vast amount of online WHMIS training providers. While many are reputable and provide great training, others are not. If you choose to get your WHMIS certificate via online training, make sure that you choose a provider that is reputable and that the course contains some of the characteristics discussed throughout this article.
Here’s a great article where you can read about some of the things you need to look for when considering getting your WHMIS certificate via online training: Requirements of The Best Online WHMIS Training
WHMIS Training Knowledge Evaluation
Adequate WHMIS training that results in the issuance of a WHMIS certificate must have some type of evaluation. The evaluation, often referred to as an assessment, quiz, test or exam, must challenge the learner to ensure that they’ve successfully retained the required WHMIS knowledge. This ensures compliance and due diligence. More importantly, it ensures that the learner possesses important knowledge that will help keep them safe, and injury/illness free while working with or near hazardous products.
Digital WHMIS Certificate? (Digital Badges)
Have you heard of digital badges?
Digital Badges or, Digital Credentials, are very powerful new tools for identifying and validating people’s skills, knowledge, accomplishments, and competencies.
Basically, a Digital Badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve learned or knowledge that you’ve acquired.
Like the way a boy/girl scout would earn a physical badge, Digital Badges are earned online when a learner acquires a certain skill or passes an online course or
exam. A Digital Badges is a graphical image with embedded information detailing the specific learner and their new credential. When a Digital Badged is earned, it’s stored and accessible from an online learner account. This means that Digital Badges can be conveniently accessed anytime and anywhere through a mobile device, allowing a learner to display credentials and prove certification instantly.
What does this have to do with WHMIS Certificates?
Many progressive online training providers are now providing Digital Badges to learners who complete their training programs! We’re very happy to let you know that we currently provide a Digital Badge for the successful completion of our online WHMIS training course, in addition to our standard Certificate and Wallet Card:)
This Digital Badge acts as another form of your WHMIS certificate.
Digital Badges are gaining popularity and will become commonplace soon.
Do You Need to Always Carry Your WHMIS Certificate?
Whether a worker is required to carry their WHMIS certificate with them always during work is also a common question.
Currently, there’s nothing in the legislation that requires that a worker keep their WHMIS certificate in their possession at all times while at work. In fact, there’s nothing in the legislation that requires that a worker be issued a WHMIS certificate.
This doesn’t mean, however, that no records of training are required.
Remember, it’s ultimately an employer’s responsibility to ensure that their workers have received adequate training. It’s also their responsibility to ensure that they maintain adequate training records that clearly demonstrate that their worker has received WHMIS training and that they possess the required knowledge to stay safe. Many employees do choose to issue WHMIS certificates specifically for this reason. They are supplementary to maintaining knowledge evaluations, and other important training records.
The Cost of Getting Your WHMIS Certificate
The costs associated with getting your WHMIS certificate can vary significantly.
In many cases, your employer will be providing the training for you, and it won’t cost you anything. In other cases, you may need to obtain the training on your own.
WHMIS training should not only be affordable but provide extremely high value. In fact, most of the time, the value is more important than price!
What exactly are you getting for your money when you pay for WHMIS training. You shouldn’t think of it as simply buying a WHMIS certificate. There are many factors that can increase the value of your WHMIS training purchase. Is both a WHMIS certificate and a wallet card included in the price? If they are, how often can you view and print them? How long can you access them for – does access expire at some point? Is a digital badge included after you complete the course? What if you don’t pass the exam the first time; can you take it again for free?
These are all things to be considered that can significantly increase the value of your purchase.
Some WHMIS training is offered online for free. While this may be an OK option for some, the free options typically don’t have the same level of quality as the paid options. Additionally, many of the free options are not updated to include the new WHMIS 2015 components. As mentioned earlier, you should only take training that covers both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015.
At the same time, there are some very expensive options. Just because the price is very high, doesn’t mean the quality is.
Remember, do your research and find the provider that offers you the most value for your money.
Workplace Specific WHMIS Training
Many of the methods available to get your WHMIS certificate do not include workplace specific training. Even employers sometimes offer classroom-based training alone and provide WHMIS certificates to the participants once complete.
Workplace specific WHMIS training may not be required in every case, but there are MANY scenarios where workplace specific training will be required, EVEN after you have obtained your WHMIS certificate. It’s the responsibility of your company to assess the workplace, the processes, and the hazardous products used, and determine if you’ll need additional workplace specific training.
One thing is certain, if you’ll be directly handling hazardous products, then you will need workplace specific training. If you don’t receive it, you need to ask for it before working with the hazardous products.
Workplace specific WHMIS training, commonly referred to as “practical training” or “onsite training” includes, but is not limited to, the following topics, and is completed at the specific workplace:
- Specific safety precautions
- Emergency procedures
- Handling and use requirements
- Required PPE, where to find it, and how it’s used
- Specialized policies and procedures
- Emergency procedures for specific hazardous products
- How to access safety data sheets (SDSs) at a workplace
- Workplace labeling requirements
Now you know all about WHMIS certificates, and what you need to do to get yours.
Remember, it’s more than just getting your WHMIS certificate; it’s about learning how to be safe, and how to protect yourself and your coworkers from chemical hazards at work. Good WHMIS training will literally arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to prevent injuries, serious illnesses, and even death. Please, take it seriously.