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Many basic elements (e.g., rights and responsibilities of workers, responsibilities of employers, supervisors, etc.) are similar in all the jurisdictions across Canada. However, the details of the occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation and how the laws are enforced vary from one jurisdiction to another. In addition, provisions in the regulations may be "mandatory", "discretionary" or "as directed by the Minister".
General responsibilities of governments for occupational health and safety include:
Employees responsibilities include the following:
Employees have the following three basic rights:
The manager or supervisor must:
Managers and supervisors act on behalf of the employer, and hence have the responsibility to meet the duties of the employer as specified in the Act for the work they (the managers and supervisors) direct.
An employer must:
Generally, legislation in different jurisdictions across Canada state that health and safety committees must:
More details about these committees are in the Health & Safety Committees Section on this site.
The role of health and safety committees can include to:
An employee can refuse work if he/she believes that the situation is unsafe to either himself/herself or his/her co-workers. When a worker believes that a work refusal should be initiated, then
The legislation holds employers responsible to protect employee health and safety. Enforcement is carried out by inspectors from the government department responsible for health and safety in each jurisdiction. In some serious cases, charges may also be laid by police or crown attorneys under Section 217.1 of the Canada Criminal Code (also known as the "Westray Bill" or "Bill C-45"). This section imposes a legal duty on employers and those who direct work to take reasonable measures to protect employees and public safety. If this duty is "wantonly" or recklessly disregarded and bodily harm or death results, an organization or individual could be charged with criminal negligence.
If you have specific concerns about what regulations require employers and workers to do, you should consult local authorities in your jurisdiction. This is especially true if your questions deal with the content, interpretation, compliance and enforcement of the legislation, and how it applies in your own workplace situation.
We have provided referrals in the OSH Answers document "Canadian Government Departments Responsible for OH&S".