Canadian Flag Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Centre canadien d'hygiène et de sécurité au travail Government of Canada Wordmark
CCOHS: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Français Contact Us Help
Canada Site
Web Info Service Products & Services OSH Answers Education & Training
Canada's national Occupational Health & Safety Resource
Home About Us E-News Bringing Health to Work Events Resources
 Features Archive

     Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Legislation

The purpose of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) legislation is to protect you, the worker, against hazards on the job. It outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker.

The law makes both you and your employer jointly responsible for workplace health and safety.

What does the OH&S legislation say?

Each of the Canadian provinces and the federal government have their own OH&S legislation. The details of the OH&S legislation vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another but the basic elements are the same. These basic elements include the following:

Government's Responsibilities

  1. to enforce occupational health and safety legislation
  2. to conduct workplace inspections
  3. to disseminate information
  4. to promote training, education and research

Worker's Rights

  1. to refuse unsafe work
  2. to participate in the workplace health and safety activities through Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or worker health and safety representative
  3. to know actual and potential dangers in the workplace

Worker's Responsibilities

  1. to work in compliance with OHS act and regulations
  2. to use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed by the employer
  3. to report workplace hazards and dangers

Supervisor's Responsibilities

  1. to ensure that workers use prescribed protective equipment devices
  2. to advise worker of potential and actual hazards
  3. to take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers

Employer's Responsibilities

  1. to establish and maintain a joint health and safety committee, or cause workers to select at least one health and safety representative
  2. to take every reasonable precaution to ensure workplace is safe
  3. to train employees about any potential hazards
  4. to supply personal protective equipment and ensure workers know how to use the equipment safely and properly
  5. to immediately report all critical injuries to the government department responsible for OH&S.
  6. to train all employees how to safely use, handle, store and dispose of hazardous substances and handle emergencies

Joint Health and Safety Committee

  1. must be comprised of' one-half management and at least one-half labour representatives
  2. must meet at least once every 3 months
  3. must be co-chaired by one management chairperson and one worker chairperson
  4. employee representatives are elected or selected by the workers, or their union

Role of Joint Health and Safety Committee

  1. to act as an advisory body
  2. to identify hazards and obtains information
  3. to recommend corrective actions
  4. to assist in resolving work refusal cases
  5. to participate in accident investigations and workplace inspections

Work Refusals

You can refuse work if you have reason to believe that the situation is unsafe to either yourself or your co-workers.

  1. You must report to your supervisor that you are refusing to work and state why you believe the situation is unsafe.
  2. You, your supervisor, and a JHSC member or worker representative will investigate.
  3. You return to work if the problem is resolved.
  4. If the problem is not resolved, a government health and safety inspector is called.
  5. Your supervisor may assign you reasonable alternative work.
  6. Inspector investigates and gives decision.

Important Notices and Disclaimers
©CCOHS, 2008
Technical Support
Client Services
Products & services info
Inquiries Service
Answers to workplace questions
Website feedback