NEW Refusal of Unsafe Work Protections for Workers

On August 22, 2022, a new section of the Occupational Health and Safety regulation related to the refusal of unsafe work will take effect. Workers have the right to refuse work when they have reasonable cause to believe it is unsafe. The new provisions make it harder for employers to reassign that potentially unsafe work to someone else.

This is a long overdue and very important change that the labour movement has advocated for. It reinforces a worker’s right to know and increases the protections for workers in the workplace.

The new section, Section 3.12.1, applies when a work refusal is not resolved at step 1 or step 2 and the employer wishes to reassign the work while continuing the work refusal investigation process. It requires employers to inform the worker(s) they wish to reassign the work to, as well as the joint committee worker representative, about the refusal and their right to refuse unsafe work prior to reassignment, in writing.

An excerpt of the new section is included below:

3.12.1 Reassignment of refused work
(1) If a worker refuses work under section 3.12, the employer must not require or permit another worker to do the refused work unless
(a) the matter has been resolved under section 3.12 (3), (4) or (5), or
(b) the employer has, in writing, advised the other worker and a person referred to in section 3.12 (4)(a), (b) or
(c) of all of the following:
(i) the refusal;
(ii) the unsafe condition reported under section 3.12 (2);
(iii) the reasons why the task would not create an undue hazard to the health and safety of the other worker or any other person;
(iv) the right of the other worker under section 3.12 to refuse unsafe work.

Stay tuned for new information including updated application guidelines.

If you have any questions, please contact the HSA OHS department at @email