WORKERS’ RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES

Employers have the right to determine and control the work, as long as everything is legal.
Workers, however, have the power to protect their own health and safety as well as that of their co-workers.

RIGHTS

As an employee, you have the following three basic rights:

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Right to Know

Workers have the right to know about workplace health and safety hazards.

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Right to Participate

Workers have the right to make recommendations about health and safety.

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Right to Refuse

Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it endangers their health and safety.

Learn more about each Right using these dynamic bars:

Workers have the right to know about workplace health and safety hazards.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers must provide a wide range of information about workplace hazards to workers and Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs). JHSCs have a duty to communicate with workers.

WHMIS, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, is one example of the right to know. WHMIS is a Canada-wide system designed to protect workers by providing information about hazardous materials on the job.

WHMIS has three main parts:

  1. Labels
  2. Safety data sheets (SDSs)
  3. Worker education and training.

Workers have the right to make recommendations about health and safety.

Employers must recognize this right to participate. They must consult with JHSCs about methods of testing equipment, substances, or other workplace factors, and about health and safety training programs.

A worker on the JHSC has the right to be present at the beginning of testing, to participate in Ministry of Labour inspections and investigations, to investigate serious accidents, and to inspect the jobsite regularly.

JHSCs have the right to make recommendations to employers about health and safety improvements. Employers must reply in writing within 21 days. Certified worker members have the right to investigate complaints dealing with dangerous circumstances.

Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it endangers their health and safety.

The OHSA sets out specific procedures. It’s a two- stage process.

You can refuse based on your subjective belief that the work is dangerous. You must inform the supervisor or employer.

Once a supervisor has investigated, you may still have reasonable grounds for believing that the work is dangerous. In this case, you may continue to refuse work. A Ministry of Labour inspector must be called to investigate.

RESPONSIBILITIES

As an employee, your responsibilities include the following:

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 To work in compliance with OH&S acts and regulations.

Icon showing a rubber glove, hard helmet and mask depicting the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

To use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed by the employer.

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To report workplace hazards and dangers to the supervisor or employer.

To work in a safe manner as required by the employer and use the prescribed safety equipment.

To tell the supervisor or employer about any missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous.

RESOURCES

The following resources provide additional information on workers’ rights and responsibilities:

Workers’ Basic Health and Safety Rights – The Videos

September 2022

[VIDEOS]
Available in English and Spanish

Workers’ Basic Health and Safety Rights –The Wallet Cards

[WALLET CARDS]
Available in English, Spanish and Thai
OHCOW’s Migrant Farm Workers Team

Educators’ Experiences During the Pandemic: Impacts of Psychosocial Hazards and Exercising Their Rights

April 5, 2022

[RECORDED WEBINAR]
Tracie Edward, Hon.B.Sc., B.Ed., Health and Safety Coordinator at the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and OHCOW Board member

Workers’ Basic Health and Safety Rights – The Infographics

[INFOGRAPHICS]
A series of four colourful and informative infographics that contain helpful information for workers who need to exercise their rights for a healthy and safe work environment.

What does ‘Health’ in Health and Safety mean to me?

February 22, 2022

[PODCAST]
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW)

Communicating Health and Safety Effectively

2018

[FACTSHEET / HANDOUT]
OHCOW Migrant Farm Workers’ Team