Important to know
Workers have the right to refuse dangerous work and are protected from reprisal for exercising this right:
- workers must continue to be paid while a work refusal is being investigated
- employers must ensure workers understand the hazards at the workplace, know what needs to be reported and have the support to exercise their right
- employers must investigate the matter in cooperation with the joint work site health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if applicable
- employers cannot take or threaten discriminatory action against a worker for exercising their rights and duties under the legislation
- other workers may be assigned to the work if they are advised of the refusal, reason for it and are made aware of their own right to refuse work after the employer determines there is not a risk
How it works
Workers on provincially regulated work sites have the right to refuse to carry out any work they reasonably think will put themselves, or others, in danger.
Asking a worker to work in a situation where there is a danger to health and safety is against provincial labour laws.
Work involving health and safety hazards that are not normal for the job is considered as dangerous condition that could trigger a work refusal.
How to address dangerous work
If you’re being asked to do work you think could present a danger for you or another, follow these steps:
- Don't do the work.
- Tell your employer, supervisor or another designated person as soon as possible what you're refusing to do, and why.
- Your employer must investigate and take action to eliminate the danger.
- This may include the employer finding a qualified worker to do the work or implementing controls.
- Unless the danger is fixed immediately, the employer must prepare and provide you with a report once their investigation is complete that explains the actions they took to address the danger.
- Connect with the OHS Contact Centre if your employer won't stop work you think is dangerous.
- Do other work that your employer assigns you in the meantime, providing:
- you can reasonably do it
- it's safe
- Review the written report your employer gives you about their investigation into the danger, and the actions they take to fix it.
- Connect with the OHS Contact Centre if you think your employer hasn't corrected the situation.
If you’re an employer who has been notified that your worker is refusing work they think is unsafe, you’re required by law to look into and eliminate the danger.
If a worker refuses unsafe work, follow these steps:
- Investigate and take action to eliminate the danger.
- Ensure that no other worker is assigned to the same work, or equipment, unless:
- the danger has been eliminated
- the worker to be assigned is not exposed to the danger
- the worker assigned is informed of the refusal, the reasons for the refusal and their right to refuse work that presents a danger
- You may temporarily assign the worker to another job, but at no loss of pay.
- Document in writing:
- the worker's notification
- your investigation findings
- what actions you took to remedy the situation
- Involve the joint work site health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if there is one at the work site, in the investigation.
- Give the committee or health and safety representative, if there is one, as well as the worker a copy of the written report.
- If you have questions about how to handle a worker's refusal to do work they think is unsafe, call the OHS Contact Centre.