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Rights of workers in Ontario

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of workers, supervisors, and employers in provincially regulated workplaces. New Canadians and those whose first language is not English are often unaware of their rights and responsibilities and the type of health and safety training required to work in Ontario.

As a worker in Ontario, you have three basic rights guaranteed under the OHSA.

  • 1. Right to know
  • 2. Right to participate
  • 3. Right to refuse unsafe work.
 

Right to know

You have the right to know about hazards in your workplace and to be trained on how to protect yourself from harm.

According to Ontario Regulation 297/13, which came into effect on July 1, 2014, employers are required to make sure that all of their workers and supervisors have completed basic occupational health and safety awareness training. This training outlines the rights, roles, and responsibilities of workers, supervisors, and employers.

 

Right to participate

You have the right to help identify and resolve workplace health and safety concerns. There are many ways you can do this, such as asking questions, raising concerns, and giving positive feedback. One of the most effective ways you can get involved is to become a health and safety representative or join the health and safety committee at your workplace.

 

Right to refuse unsafe work

You have the right to refuse work that you believe endangers your health or safety or the health or safety of others. Your employer cannot fire or discipline you for refusing unsafe work or for asking them to address a health and safety issue.

Section 43 (3) of the OHSA states that:

A worker may refuse to work or do particular work where he or she has reason to believe that,

  • (a) any equipment, machine, device or thing the worker is to use or operate is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker;
  • (b) the physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is likely to endanger himself or herself;
  • (b.1) workplace violence is likely to endanger himself or herself; or
  • (c) any equipment, machine, device or thing he or she is to use or operate or the physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is in contravention of this Act or the regulations and such contravention is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker.
 

Talk to your supervisor first and try to resolve the problem before initiating the work refusal process. In addition to this right, workers also have a duty to report all potential hazards and unsafe conditions to the employer.

 

Important contact numbers

In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.

Call the Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Report hazards and any violations of workplace health and safety law right away to your supervisor or employer. If you can't get health and safety problems fixed at work, call the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-202-0008. You don't have to give your name. Services may be offered in various languages.

Toll-free: 1-877-202-0008 TTY: 1-855-653-9260 from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, Monday – Friday for general inquiries about workplace health and safety.

 

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