Since 1979, when the Occupational Health and Safety Act came into law, amendments to the Act have been introduced to establish new procedures as well as new rights and duties for workers, employers, supervisors and others in the workplace. One of the most important changes was giving the Joint Heath & Safety Committee’s the right to participate in health and safety recommendations. But that wasn’t the only established right given to workers, there are three basic rights.
Every Worker has Rights
The Ham Commission Report was instrumental in establishing the three basic rights for workers. These include;
Right to Know
Employers and supervisors must ensure workers are aware of the hazards presented by people, equipment, materials, the environment, and processes. They have the right to be trained on, and to receive information about dangerous and hazardous substances that they are exposed to, or are likely to be exposed.
Right to Participate
The right to participate is best illustrated through worker membership on the J.H.S.C. Workers have the right to ask questions about issues concerning their health and safety or that of a coworker. Workers have the right to be a part of the process of identifying, assessing and controlling workplace health and safety hazards. Participation can also be achieved by reporting unsafe conditions to the supervisor or employer.
Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
Workers may refuse work where they believe it is likely to endanger themselves, or any other worker.The Act includes a detailed process for refusing unsafe work and explains the employer’s responsibility for responding to work refusals. The Act also provides workers with protection from reprisal, or retaliation, from the employer should they decided to refuse unsafe work.