Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Workers Basic Safety and Health Rights

All workers are covered by occupational safety and health legislation. The legislation requires both employers and workers to take steps to safeguard the health and well-being of themselves and others.

Workers have four basic rights under safety and health legislation.

1. The right to know: Every worker has a right to know the safety and health hazards of the job, and of the individual tasks that make up the job. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are trained, informed and supervised to ensure that they have the knowledge to perform the job safely.

2. The right to refuse dangerous work: Every worker has the right to refuse to perform work which they believe, and have reason to believe, is dangerous to their life and health. Nor may an employer assign another worker to the task unless that worker has been informed of the reason that the task was refused by the original worker. The responsibility falls to the employer to ensure that the task is safe to perform.

3. The right to protection: The employer must provide workers with a safe work environment. Sometimes, this also means providing personal protective equipment as needed. The equipment should fit the worker and the worker should be trained to operate and care for the equipment. The worker is legally responsible when the nature of the work requires, to wear all the personal protective equipment provided for his safety.

4. The right to participation: Every worker has the right to be involved with safety and health activities and to communicate with members of the safety and health committee or worker representative.

Who do you talk to if you have safety and health concerns? Talk to your supervisor. Often safety issues can be resolved promptly and effectively at this level. Alternatively, take your concern to the Joint safety and health committee. The workplace safety and health committee is made up of management and worker representatives. The committee is responsible under the legislation to receive and resolve, or recommend actions to resolve workplace safety issues. A worker should bring any safety concern to the attention of their representative, who will in turn, take it to the committee as a whole for resolution.

Is training a safety issue? Yes, employers are required by legislation to train workers to safely perform the job. This training should be competency based. The worker should not only be trained how to do the job, but should be able to demonstrate that they can satisfactorily and safely perform the job under a variety of workplace conditions. The workers are required to take reasonable care to protect their safety and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions.

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