Health and Safety
Labour unions have a long and proud history for fighting for health and safety rights for workers. Each province has legislation specific to Health and Safety in the workplace; Health and Safety legislation includes regulations for employers to maintain a safe workplace, protection against violence, harassment and discrimination, and workers’ rights to a safe workplace. It also outlines rights and responsibilities related to hazardous materials, safety equipment and training.
Each unionized workplace should have a Health and Safety committee and/or representative. A Health and Safety Committee can give you advice on how to stay safe at work, as well as receive complaints about possible health and safety violations. The Committee is also responsible for ensuring your employer is in compliance with Health and Safety legislation and can make effective recommendations to improve workplace safety.
Workers United offers Health and Safety Committee training, as well as WSIB specific training workshops. Contact your Health and Safety committee, shop steward or Union representative for more information, or check your union bulletin board.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
You have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you believe the work you’ve been asked to do may endanger you or those around you, you have the legal right to refuse to perform the work. You must tell your supervisor or manager that you believe the situation is unsafe; they may not agree, but you cannot be forced or ordered to perform work that you believe is unsafe and you cannot be disciplined for refusing to do the work. If necessary, let your supervisor know that you are exercising your rights under your provinces’ Occupational Safety Act. Above all, you have the right to return home in the same condition your were in when you arrived at work.
Both workers and employers have a responsibility to maintain safety in the workplace. The WSIB’s guideline for employers and workers can be found here: Employer/Workers Rights and Responsibilities
- Talk to your Health and Safety representative and document what happened
- See your doctor – make sure your doctor knows how your injury occurred
- Make a claim! Don’t wait to file a claim with your provincial Workers Compensation Board
Your Rights and the Duty to Accommodate
If you have been injured at work, you may be eligible to claim earnings lost as a result of your injury. Your employer has the obligation to accommodate your return to work and make adjustments to your job if necessary. It is illegal for your employer to suspend, terminate or otherwise discriminate against you due to a workplace injury or accident.
For more information about Health and Safety, check out the following links:
- Ministry of Labour (Ontario)
- Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario)
- Workers Health and Safety Centre (Ontario)
- Manitoba Occupational Health Centre
- Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety
- Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
Mental Injury Tool Kit
Prepared by the Occupational Health and Safety Centre for Ontario Workers, the Mental Injury Tool Kit serves as a guide and provides workers the resources necessary to begin understanding the cause and affects of workplace stress.
Ministry of Labour Court Bulletins
The Ministry of Labour published reports describing convictions of employers that violate Ministry of Labour regulations. When employers ignore even the most basic Health and Safety regulations, workers suffer the consequences. Many violations of Ministry of Labour regulations result in worker injury or even death. Visit the link below to read more about which employers have been convicted of violations, the monetary fines associated with such convictions, and the effects of non-compliance suffered by workers.