In Canada, workers are strongly supported in terms of occupational health and safety, which is why every employee should be aware of the three basic rights to which they can adhere and demand when necessary.
Each state has different approaches to occupational safety regulations and standards, but it can be summarized as guaranteeing the following basic pillars.
1. First right: The right to know:
Companies must guarantee training to workers on the hazards to which they are exposed, as well as provide the necessary training to minimize the risks within the company’s operations.
Some of such hazards include equipment, toxic materials, machinery, environmental and some processes that, if not known accurately, can lead to a risk that affects the integrity of the worker and all their coworkers.
Some companies follow specific procedures that, in case of any change, can lead to danger for the individual, the rest of the workers and the community. Therefore, companies must guarantee training, education, instruction and supervision on the use of all the methods developed to ensure health within the company.
Briefly, workers have the right to know how to:
2. Second right: The right to participate:
Every employee has the right to participate in issues related to occupational health and safety, ask questions and have the need to know and develop new practices that are safer for everyone.
In the occupational health and safety joint committee, interested employees can be appointed to evaluate, report and control some safety practices, thus benefiting both employees by obtaining a safer space, and employers by implementing new practices that ensure the development of their company.
3. Third right: The right to refuse unsafe work
It may be the case that a worker refuses to perform a very risky work, and their right is to communicate their concern about the risk and their refusal to expose themselves to it.
The feeling of insecurity may be personal or communal and a representative of all employees may decide to communicate the situation. The steps to follow are described below:
Once the reason for the alert reported by the employee is inspected, two situations may arise: One, that the problem is identified and an immediate solution is found and the worker can continue with the work. Or, two, the issue is not resolved and goes to a second stage.
In this second stage of denial, the worker continues to remain in a safe company location while supervisors contact the Ministry of Labor (MOL) to have the workplace investigated along with a company management representative.
The inspector will issue a written decision and a suggestion for changes to be made by the employer in order for the work to continue and for the worker to be able to return to their duties.
However, if during the wait for the MOL inspector, the worker refuses to continue with the work, they may be offered another job, and it is the duty of the company to emphasize that the job is subject to rejection to any other employee who is offered the job.
Rights are respected
Note that all workers who adhere to the three basic rights of occupational health and safety cannot be sanctioned, reprimanded, or receive any kind of retaliation within the company for enforcing their rights.