Table of contents


Workers under the age of 25 are more likely to be injured on the job than older workers.

Learn how to stay healthy and safe on the job. Before starting:

  • Know your rights
  • Know the rules
  • Have proper training
  • Communicate with co-workers and supervisors

How to say no at work

You can’t be fired for telling your boss you think a job is unsafe.

As a worker, it’s your right to be heard. Employers want to keep their workers safe and healthy, and appreciate suggestions. It can also be a great way to gain the respect of your supervisor.

This means your employer can’t lay you off, fire you or otherwise discipline you because you refuse to do, or report, dangerous work.

If you do get laid off, fired or disciplined for these reasons, contact OHS and an OHS officer will look into the situation.

If you have to quit

If you can’t work things out with your boss, you may decide to quit; your life is more important than any job. If you have questions, contact OHS at 1-866-415-8690.

How to talk to your supervisor

Keep the following advice in mind when bringing up health and safety concerns with your supervisor:

  • ask the advice of a trusted co-worker first then try to work things out with your direct supervisor
  • speak with your supervisor
  • talk to your joint health and safety committee or representative
  • approach your supervisor with a respectful and positive attitude

Example scenarios

If your employer still insists that you do unsafe work, here are some examples of what you can say.

  • Example 1:

    Your job requires you to drive on occasion and you are provided with a car to use when needed. The automatic car you usually drive is in the shop and you are asked to make a delivery driving a standard. You have never driven a standard before and would not feel confident driving one.

    What would you say?

    What to say: Response:
    Wrong thing to say: Ok, I guess I can teach myself to drive a standard.
    Right thing to say: I don’t feel confident driving a standard. If you need me to drive, please provide me with an automatic car. If you send me to a training course on how to drive a standard, then I would be happy to drive a standard.
  • Example 2:

    You just started working for a lawn care company and you are required to spray chemicals on weeds. The site you are sent to has weeds almost as tall as you and it is a very windy day. When you start spraying the chemicals, the wind blows them into your face. Your supervisor phones you to ask how the work is going.

    What would you say?

    What to say: Response:
    Wrong thing to say: Everything is going great. I will get to the next site by coffee break.
    Right thing to say: This site has very high weeds and when I spray them, the chemicals blow into my face. I don’t want to get sick from the chemicals. I'd like to wear the right personal protection equipment.
  • Example 3:

    You work at a store where a light bulb has just burnt out. Your boss asks you or your co-worker to climb up a ladder to change the light bulb. The ladder provided is not quite high enough to reach and is very unsteady. The floor under the light bulb is slightly sloped. Your co-worker refuses to climb the ladder because they feel it is unsafe. Your boss turns to you and says, “I’m counting on you.”

    What would you say?

    What to say: Response:
    Wrong thing to say: Sure, no problem. I will change the light bulb. (As you silently think to yourself, “I hope I don't fall. That’ll hurt.”)
    Right thing to say: I don’t want to take a chance and fall. We should find a better ladder before the light bulb is replaced.
  • Example 4:

    You work at a store stocking shelves and you are asked to lift heavy boxes of televisions onto shelves. You were supposed to have someone to help you but they called in sick that day. Your supervisor says, “I know you are a strong person. You’ll be o.k. to lift those by yourself won’t you?”

    What do you say?

    What to say: Response:
    Wrong thing to say: Yep, no worries. (As you mumble to yourself, “my back won’t be ok though).”
    Right thing to say: Actually, I think that it would be hard on my back and I need another person to help me. I can’t do it by myself.

You can’t be fired!

Each Canadian province has a law to help keep work sites safe and healthy. In Alberta, it’s called the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, Regulation and Code.

You can’t be disciplined or fired for following the rules of the OHS Act, Regulation or the Code. The OHS Act states: No person shall take or threaten any disciplinary action against a worker because that person did what the OHS Act told them to do. If this does happen to you, contact OHS.


Connect with OHS:

Phone: 780-415-8690 (Edmonton)
Toll free: 1-866-415-8690 
TTY: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton)
TTY: 1-800-232-7215

Ask an Expert