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The IAPA and WHMIS.

The IAPA and WHMIS

The IAPA's contribution to WHMIS began in October 1987, one year before the federal and provincial government's legal requirements regarding hazardous material in the workplace took effect. Much preparation was needed to implement training programmes and methods to service the diverse industry groups that comprise membership in the IAPA.

Many firms were curious about the impending legislation, and wondered how it would alter their day-to-day business practices. So from the start, IAPA's technical and research & development staff were busy planning how WHMIS information could best be imparted to their member firms. And there were many inquiries; between October 1988 and May 1989, many district training staff were giving at least one WHMIS presentation per week.

Ultimately, it was decided that WHMIS information would be distributed through two phases. Phase I covered the generic questions that were already being asked by the firms: What is WHMIS? What is an MSDS? What does a label look like? Using four modules, IAPA trainers went into the field teaching member firms how to cope with the new mandate. The first module was Information Delivery, the second Legislation, the third Occupational Health, and the fourth Hazard Control.

Phase I

Each module of Phase I was accompanied by a video, leader's guide, and participant's workbook. As well, an intrinsic part of this phase of training was the seminars conducted by IAPA to teach industry the ins and outs of WHMIS legislation. Two seminar options were available: one aimed at supervisors and safety committee people, the other at workers. For the first group, IAPA would give two three-hour seminars covering the first two modules of Phase I. For workers, WHMIS training was compressed to 1 hours on each of the four modules rather than just the first two (worker training is done by the firm's staff or outside consultants). Training is different for these diverse groups for what were felt to be valid reasons: supervisors needed more intensive training about the legal aspects, while workers needed to learn the basics of what occupational health and safety was all about, as well as controlling hazards.

Still, IAPA training is primarily dependent on Module I and II of Phase I, the training that is targeted to the supervisory level. Few talks are given to workers, a deliberate strategy on the part of IAPA. We felt that as an association, we couldn't tackle that big a chore. So in targeting upper-level industry employees, we decided to do two things: one was to present a one-day supervisory and safety committee seminar. The other was to implement a four-day "train the trainer" course to instruct people how to teach all four modules of Phase I, enabling them to take the information back to their own workers.

And it seems that this approach is successful. Archie Kerr, an employee of the Hamilton-based Dofasco Inc., notes that using IAPA's train the trainer programme sped up the WHMIS training process considerably. "Our training took six months to complete. Department superintendents identified 245 trainers (production supervisors, foremen, and employees), and gave them a course that included four hours on our WHMIS training modules. . . . Scheduling proved to be the most difficult task, with more than 42,000 hours of training scheduled by the January 1989 deadline."

Bill Sisler, of Cabot Canada's Sarnia, Ont.-based carbon division points out other benefits of the train the trainer programme. "First of all, everyone in the company is now getting the same, consistent information (about WHMIS) from the same people. They know their rights, and they aren't reluctant to ask questions."

As well, says Sisler, "If workers do the training, people feel more at ease because it's done by someone they see daily. Otherwise, they might ask, 'What does he know? He doesn't even work for us.""

On to Phase II

Phase I having covered the general aspects of legislation, Phase II of the IAPA's training was undertaken to teach member firms about the specific impacts they would encounter under WHMIS. So for each of the six hazard classes (one of which includes three major sub-classes), specific training in the form of videotapes and workbooks was developed. For example, if a firm handles compressed gases, they'd first get general Phase I training. Having dealt with that, they'd then get into the specifics. Say a worker deals with 10 or 15 compressed gases: they might pick two or three as examples and look at those specific labels and data sheets and then explore how the information on these impact on how that worker does his job.

Because IAPA had more time to develop Phase II, implementing it was a calmer, more objective experience. The process was less rushed, so there was ample time to implement a review group who could make comments and suggestions on the technical accuracy of the product. Since Phase I was designed fairly quickly to meet the legal deadline, there was no time for technical review and a few errors -- which have subsequently been corrected -- slipped through unnoticed.

The major undertaking for the IAPA now is to spread the word about the specific WHMIS training that's being offered under Phase II. Many of IAPA's member firms have completed Phase I, the general training, but they haven't yet done the specific training they're required by law to complete. One of the association's main goals is to spread the word that our Phase II training is now available. When that happens, IAPA will start selling more training material, and a lot more firms will be meeting the challenge of WHMIS.

For example, Larry Westlake, IAPA's chief engineer, gave a talk to a wood pallet manufacturers group. Understanding WHMIS's general implications, they were eager to discover how it specifically affected them. "I spoke about how WHMIS would affect wood dust, fork lift truck operation, carbon monoxide, and painting operations," says Westlake. "All of these things come into play during wood pallet manufacturing, and all of them are covered under WHMIS."

IAPA's technical staff are confident that all our WHMIS materials are good products because they're adaptable to each firms' individual needs. For example, for any given presentation, a seminar leader can use the video or printed materials that are available, or both. In some cases, there are overheads and slides which can be included as well. With that kind of flexibility, the WHMIS training is sure to be successful.

Fiona Hendry is editor of Accident Prevention, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association's health and safety magazine.
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Title Annotation:Industrial Accident Prevention Association offers seminars on Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System implementation
Author:Hendry, Fiona
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Words:1078
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