Occupational health and safety legislation in Canada provides fundamental rights to Canadian workers while they are performing their jobs. The three basic rights are:
- to be informed of any foreseeable health or safety risks in the workplace;
- to participate through health and safety committees in the prevention of workplace accidents and diseases;
- to refuse work that is dangerous or may cause harm or injury to the worker without fear of reprisal from their employer
All the provinces and federal jurisdiction have some form of Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations. Regulations set the specific standards and requirements that must be followed in the workplace to avoid injury or disease to workers.
Government Inspectors are hired to ensure that employers and employees are following proper safety guidelines to minimize the risk of injury. Employees who feel they must report a safety concern are protected by the law from dismissal or disciplinary action. Workers must follow the appropriate procedure for reporting a concern.
Joint Health and Safety Committees exist in many workplaces to ensure workers and their employers are cooperating in maintaining a safe workplace. Regular inspections are part of the duties of the committee.
Health and safety regulations vary between the different Canadian jurisdictions.
Determining your rights can be a difficult task. It requires careful reading of the appropriate section(s) of legislation and corresponding regulations. In addition there are numerous exceptions and exemptions that may need to be considered.
Visit our Mental Wellness in the Workplace page for a comprehensive list of resources to help you manage a stressful work environment.