Right to refuse unsafe work

Everyone who works in a workplace is responsible for safety: your employer, your supervisor and you.

Work is unsafe when the work activities or conditions (or both) are likely to endanger the health and safety of the worker or another person. (This could be inadequate training in the task or equipment, lack of guarding, or other inadequate mitigation measures for a hazard, for example.)

If you believe, based on reasonable grounds, that work is unsafe, you have the right to refuse to perform the work, job or task.  When you refuse unsafe work, there are specific steps you and your supervisor or employer must take:

  1. Report the safety issue and your refusal immediately to your supervisor or employer.

  2. Your supervisor or employer must investigate the matter immediately and either take steps to fix the situation or inform you if they decide your concern is not valid. Stay at the workplace while the matter is investigated so that you can answer questions or provide additional information to the person doing the investigation.

  3. If you continue to refuse the work because you view it as unsafe, your supervisor or employer must investigate it again. They must allow you and a worker representative from your JHSC or HSR to join them in the investigation and take steps to fix the situation. If there is no worker representative from the JHSC or HSR, you can choose a worker.

  4. If the situation remains unresolved and you continue to refuse work because it is unsafe, your employer must report it to us at the Workers' Safety and Compensation Board. One of our safety officers will investigate and determine whether or not the work is unsafe. 

  5. You have the right to continue to refuse to perform the unsafe work until the unsafe work is remedied or a safety officer investigates determines the work is safe or informs you that you no longer have the right to refuse.

During this process, your supervisor or employer has the right to ask you to do other work. You are entitled to the same pay during this time.  

As a worker, you have the right to refuse unsafe work without being threatened with discipline by your supervisor or employer. (See the Reprisals page.)