As an employer in Ontario, it is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees. This not only protects your workers from harm, but it also helps to avoid costly accidents and lawsuits. One important aspect of this responsibility is the right of employees to refuse unsafe work. In this blog post, we will discuss what this right entails and how employers can support their workers in exercising it.
What is the right to refuse unsafe work?
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), all workers in Ontario have the right to refuse work that they believe is unsafe. This includes work that poses a danger to the employee or to others, or work that contravenes the OHSA or its regulations. The right to refuse unsafe work applies to all workers, regardless of their job title or position.
How does the right to refuse unsafe work work?
If an employee believes that the work they are being asked to do is unsafe, they must inform their supervisor immediately. The supervisor must then take steps to address the concern and ensure that the work is made safe. If the issue cannot be resolved, the worker has the right to refuse to do the work and the employer must find a safe alternative for the worker to do.
What are an employer’s responsibilities?
As an employer, you have a number of responsibilities when it comes to the right to refuse unsafe work. First, you must provide your employees with information and instruction on the OHSA and their rights under it, including the right to refuse unsafe work. You must also take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect your workers from harm. This includes conducting regular safety inspections and providing adequate safety equipment and training.
What happens if an employer does not respect an employee’s right to refuse unsafe work?
If an employer does not respect an employee’s right to refuse unsafe work, they are in violation of the OHSA and can be subject to penalties. This includes fines of up to $25,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. In addition, the Ministry of Labour can order the employer to take corrective action, such as providing additional training or equipment.
How can employers support their workers in exercising the right to refuse unsafe work?
As an employer, you can support your workers in exercising their right to refuse unsafe work by creating a positive safety culture in your workplace. This means fostering an open and transparent environment where workers feel comfortable raising safety concerns without fear of retaliation. It also means actively listening to and addressing those concerns in a timely and effective manner. By taking these steps, you can help to ensure that your workers are protected and that your business remains compliant with the OHSA.
The right to refuse unsafe work is an important part of Ontario’s occupational health and safety laws. As an employer, it is your responsibility to support your workers in exercising this right and to create a safe and healthy workplace. By doing so, you can avoid accidents and costly penalties, and help to protect the well-being of your employees.