SERIES EXTRA: Symbols and Pictograms

In This Article:

  • Pictograms: What’s New?
  • Download high-resolution WHMIS pictograms


As part of our continued dedication to promote important, timely and useful information, we are pleased to feature the next installment of our series devoted to examining Canada’s WHMIS 2015 legislation and its impact on SDSs and chemical labels.


In this edition, we will look at changes to the familiar WHMIS symbols widely recognized by the Canadian public.  More specifically, we will present a side-by-side comparison of the new WHMIS 2015 pictograms vis-à-vis the pictograms required by WHMIS 1988 to see what’s new.


Beyond the readily apparent cosmetic makeover of WHMIS 1988 symbols, WHMIS 2015 updates include other important distinctions:


While the pictograms of WHMIS 1988 each represented a specific hazard class, WHMIS 2015 pictograms can be applied to several categories and hazard classes.


Below is a side-by-side comparison of the pictograms, contrasting 1988 symbols with those required by WHMIS 2015:

As you can see, aside from the updated red diamond instead of the previously used black circle that surrounds the image, many of the pictograms have remained the same or are very similar in appearance. However, some, like the exploding bomb, health hazard, and exclamation mark pictograms, are new to WHMIS 2015, adopted from the GHS pictograms. Meanwhile, some WHMIS 1988 pictograms, like the poisonous and infectious material and dangerously reactive material pictograms are no longer in use.

Some of the new pictograms, like the flame and exclamation mark, actually indicate categories that were previously identified by two separate pictograms.
We hope this will serve as a useful and handy guide for you, and assist in your labeling and SDS authoring.  For your convenience, we have an archive of WHMIS Pictograms available for download.