Project Innovation Classroom Catalyst

"The All New WHMIS 2015:

Integrating the New System into Your Safety Instruction."


Considerations before activity:

  • What prior knowledge or student/class preparation was involved? Prior to this lesson, students will have likely seen or had instruction in the “old” WHMIS symbols. This may have been at some point during their elementary science experiences or if they have experienced safety training in a workplace or other courses.


  • What were the expected results before performing the activity? Students would become familiar with the new WHMIS 2015 and review HHPS in order to prepare to work/experiment safely around chemicals.


  • What motivated the creation of this activity? Based on my research at the time of developing the lesson (fall and winter 2016), I could not find an easy to use safety symbol lesson involving the new WHMIS 2015 that involved some inquiry, basic content and practical applications. I searched the internet, Teacher’s Pay Teachers and the websites listed below. The websites were useful but could not provide quite the plans or activities I was looking for. The resources were helpful for learning about the new WHMIS 2015 system and developing or “borrowing” lesson ideas that could be used in this lesson. My materials are based on what I learned from reading these sites.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety


Work Safe BC:



Canada’s National WHMIS Portal:



Work Safe! Work Smart Ontario:


In my opinion, this lesson is innovative because it incorporates the new WHMIS 2015 system which we will all be required to teach in our schools within the near future. It is my hope that this lesson will make teaching this new content easy for you. You can just open the files, print, prepare and present the lesson.I welcome your feedback (hopefully positive and constructive) and questions. I can be emailed at any time


Title: "The All New WHMIS 2015: Integrating the New System into Your Safety Instruction."

Course: Applicable for all grade levels although geared towards grade 9s and 10s.

Strand and Connection to Curriculum:

Grade 9 Academic/Applied and Grade 10 Academic/Applied: Scientific Investigation Skills and Career Exploration

A1.4 apply knowledge and understanding of safe practices and procedures when planning investigations (e.g., appropriate techniques for handling, storing, and disposing of laboratory materials [following the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System–WHMIS]; safe operation of electrical equipment; safe handling of biological materials), with the aid of appropriate support materials (e.g., the Reference Manual on the WHMIS website; the Live Safe! Work Smart! Website)

Description of Activity:

Timeline: 70-115 minutes


Overall Explanation of Activity:

There is no doubt that working with chemicals safely in the school, workplace and home is one of the most important science literacy lessons that teachers can provide instruction in. This lesson was designed to make learning about the new WHMIS 2015 system and the more familiar HHPS symbol system fun, interactive and practical.


The lesson has five main parts. Part 1 is an energizer to activate prior knowledge. Part 2 presents important content by having students visit stations and complete activities. The final station activity has the students make a mini-presentation to the class about a WHMIS 2015 controlled product. Part 3 is an Interactive Science Notebook activity. Part 4 is a quiz that could be done after the lesson.


Classroom Ready Resources: File names are listed in the lesson outline. As the materials are required the file names are listed.

Lesson Outline


Part 1: Matching to Activate Prior Knowledge

Students will activate their prior knowledge and determine what they already know about safety symbol systems. This is facilitated by using a hands-on matching activity in a small group setting. Detailed instructions and options for using the cards in two different way are provided in the matching cards activity file (NewWHMIS2015HHPSmatchingactivity.ppt).


Part 2: Station Activities

Station 1: Students will take notes on the two safety systems. A student note taking sheet is provided in the file: (NewWHMIS2015andHHPSStationActivityStudentNotes.doc).

The note taking is facilitated by having the students visit and complete the activities at each station. The station materials are contained in this file:  NewWHMIS2015andHHPSStationActivityTeacherMaterials.doc


Station 2 a, b, c Students will work with, read and use workplace labels and SDS sheets to practice a real life application of the new WHMIS 2015 system.  Students will look specifically at Acetone as an example (please see Safety Data Sheet Acetone.pdf).


Station 3 Students will learn about the HHPS system and then work with images of containers that have HHPS symbols on them. You could easily substitute the images for real containers if you choose. They can discuss in their small groups how they can safely use these products in their daily life.


Station 4: Students will work on the safety scenario described. The purpose of this worksheet is to decide which symbol system (WHMIS 2015/HHPS) they would see during each unique situation. Therefore,  students will determine which symbols they would need to interpret to use the product safely. Please note that I have adapted this worksheet from an activity that I found on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. I have provided a reference in the works cited (Tang, 2013)


Station 5: Group mini-presentations of a WHMIS 2015 product label will be completed. The teacher will assign a unique WHMIS 2015 workplace labelled product / use the workplace labels that are provided in the teacher materials to each student group. The students will put together a 1 minute presentation on how to safely use the product and indicate which WHMIS pictograms their product has and if possible list some everyday uses of the product.


Part 3:  Follow-up work is assigned in the students Interactive Science Notebook. If interactive notebooks are not being used the activity could just be assigned as homework if desired (interactivenotebookHHPSstudenthandout.doc, interactivenotebookWHMIS2015studenthandout.doc and ISNENTRYInstructionsforSafetySymbolSystems.doc).


Part 4: (on another day): Quiz on Lab Safety which would include the material learned in this lesson and previous and subsequent lessons on safety. A rubric could also be used to provide assessment feedback to the student. (NewWHMIS2015HHPSandLabSafetyQuiz.doc, WHMIS 2015andHHPS Safety Lesson Rubric).


Post-Activity Reflection Submission:

I have shared this lesson with all of the Science teachers at Stouffville District Secondary School. Through their feedback and my own experience, I was able to improve upon it and make it into what I am presenting to you here. We noticed that by using student centered stations the engagement level was very high. Students end up learning what they need to know about chemical safety in the work, home and school setting in an organized but social setting. My students seem to be able to apply their learning quite readily in the science lab setting. When the written safety assessment took place a few days after the lesson the class average on the quiz was 99%.

Work Cited:

Government of Canada, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. “Common Menu Bar Links.” The Young Workers Zone: Teaching Tools : Chemical Hazards: WHMIS Basics, Government of Canada, 12 July 2010,


McDermid, Neil. “Live Safe! Work Smart!” Live Safe! Work Smart! | Resources for Grades 9-12, Live Safe! Work Smart!, 2016,


Tang, Anh-Thi. “Lab Safety - Review Worksheets {Editable}.” Teachers Pay Teachers, Tangstar Science, May 2013,


Work Safe BC. “Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems.” Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) - WorkSafeBC, Work Safe BC, 2016,



Michelle Hollingsworth's picture

Fantastic! Thanks so much - I'm looking at adapting this for my SNC1/2L - I can see how this will help make the process interesting, interactive and get the information I need across!