Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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Health and Safety: Teaching Tools



WHMIS Case Studies

Do the following case studies as group activities. The case studies will help students recognize situations with workplace hazards, and reinforce thinking about prevention.

For each case study have the students answer these questions:

  1. What is the hazardous material and unsafe work activity?
  2. How could the person have prevented the accident?

Case Study One

Stephanie is 16-years old and works in the kitchen of a nursing home. To clean cooking pans, she soaks them in a powerful cleaning solution. She uses kitchen gloves to protect her hands and arms.

One day, as Stephanie was lifting three large pans out of the cleaning solution at once, the pans slipped out of her hands and back into the solution, which splashed all over the side of her face and into her left eye. She was blind in one eye for two weeks. Stephanie was lucky...she got her eyesight back.

Suggested Response

  1. Cleaning solution was hazardous - corrosive
    Unsafe work activities: Lifting three pans at once; not wearing eye protection
  2. Prevention:

READ the label and MSDS of the cleaning solution;
WEAR protective equipment as recommended on MSDS;
WORK at a pace to minimize splashing (e.g. lift one pan at a time)
REQUEST less hazardous cleaner to use.


Case Study Two

Hi, I'm Spencer. This is what happened to me at work. I work part-time for a friend of my father's. He runs a woodworking business and sometimes I help him out. One day I was applying some dye to wood cupboards. I was working alone because my dad's friend was really busy and I had done this job hundreds of times before. I guess I was rushing and I spilled some of the dye on my clothes. Oh well - my mom would wash them. It was getting dark, so I flicked on the table lamp beside me, and then it happened. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, everything seemed to catch fire at once. I don't remember much else. They tell me that I wasn't found for 2 hours. Rehab has been hard and I know the scars are not going to go away, but I guess I am lucky to be alive.

Suggested Response

  1. Dye was hazardous - flammable
  2. Prevention:
READ the label and MSDS of the dye and follow all of the instructions on how to work safely with the product;
ASK for more training on how to work safely with flammable products;
CHECK the area carefully for possible sources of ignition (including static electricity);
WORK carefully to avoid spills.