Workplace Health and Safety Rights and Responsibilities

WSIB Logo. Image Source: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

This week’s post is a continuation on last week’s theme about the basics of workplace safety. It’s often easy to ignore the most basic common sense when it comes to workplace safety because often a job is done so often, it becomes second nature. Even seasoned workers need to be aware of basic safety issues in the workplace. Everyone should know their basic rights, responsibilities and be aware of their personal safety, especially in the construction or building industry.

Here are some tips for young workers, provided by the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, the Ontario Service Safety Alliance and the Workers Health and Safety Centre, which are all funded by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario. These tips may have been created for new and inexperienced hires, but safety in the workplace applies to everyone.

1.       Know Your Rights: Under provincial laws in Canada, workers basic rights such as the right to know, the right to participate and the right to refuse unsafe work. More detailed information can be found at WorkSmart Ontario, where it details how employers have an overall responsibility their worker’s health and safety on the job. Employers have duties that may include providing training, ensuring a competent supervisor, providing protective equipment and ensuring the work environment is free from harmful substances.

2.       Know Your Responsibilities: All employees should know about existing work hazards and how to properly execute a task. All equipment must be used properly in according with safe operating procedures and proper training must be provided. If something is unclear or if a situation looks unsafe, one must ask how to properly complete the task or notify a supervisor.

3.       Follow All Safety Rules: No matter how minor, safety rules were put in place for a reason. Employers should provide health and safety training so that workers do the job efficiently, correctly, and safely.

4.       Report Hazards: Always report hazards to a superior. Signs of an unsafe workplace include other employees being injured on the job, working without direct supervision, incomplete training, broken equipment or unguarded equipment, unlabelled substances or if shortcuts are often used. Potential hazardous situations, injuries and sicknesses must be reported.

5.       Protect Yourself: One should know the protective equipment or gear a certain task requires and wear it at all times when performing that task. Guards or devices on equipment are also put in place to protect workers and these must not be removed.

6.       Right to Participate: One has the right to take part in keeping the workplace safe and healthy. This can be participating in training, information sessions, joining a Health and Safety Committee or becoming a Health and Safety Representative.

7.       Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: One have a right to refuse unsafe work. If a situation seems dangerous, one has an obligation to report this to management to rectify. If the problem is not solved, one has the right to refuse to perform the work without reprisal.

Employers, supervisors and workers all have legal responsibilities to make sure the workplace is safe. Learn more about your health and safety rights at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario.

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