Workplace Rights

Workers in Ontario have three rights in the workplace – the right to know, the right to participate and the right to refuse unsafe work. This section will help you explore these rights and how you can play an active role in your health and safety as well as your workplaces health and safety.

Simple Safety for a New Worker

When you start a new job there is usually a lot of excitement and a lot to learn. Health and safety might not be top of mind for you, but it is important.

So, here 4 simple steps to take

1. Get on Board – understand your role
2. Get in the Know – understand common workplace hazards and how to find safety information
3. Get involved – learn how to participate in workplace safety
4. Get more help – understand who you can go to for help, and how to refuse unsafe work


Workplace Health and Safety is Everyone’s Business

Many people are involved with health and safety on the job. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Board of Directors, the employer, supervisors, the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) and workers all have personal responsibilities for occupational health and safety (OH&S). Are you familiar with your responsibilities? When everyone works together, we can really be healthy, safe and successful.

Each person working in the organization can make a difference by:

  • Wearing the appropriate protective equipment.
  • Using safe work practices.
  • Asking questions for clarification.
  • Attending and participating in educational programs.
  • Identifying and reporting hazards.
  • Ensuring health and safety issues are resolved.

5 tips for communicating an Unsafe Work situation

To make a living, to get a foot in the door to that dream job, you may have to take on part-time jobs or temporary work. You may also have to perform work that you have little or no experience in. The jobs are low in pay and you have little control over the work you do. These precarious jobs also tend to come with a level of risk, which can jeopardize your health and safety. Regardless of the type of job you have, your employer must take every precaution reasonable to protect you from getting injured at work. The challenge is, if your employer fails to meet this expectation and you find yourself in an unsafe, unhealthy situation or worse, you got injured on the job, should you speak up?

5 tips for communicating an Unsafe Work situation

1. Write it down.

  • What is the specific concern, or dangerous situation?
  • How might you or someone else get hurt?
  • What do you think can be done to address the hazard?


2. Practice

  • Practice what you will say so that you can share your concerns confidently.


3. Reach out

  • Consult your co-workers who are doing the same job to find out if they feel the same way that you do.
  • Also reach out to your company’s health and safety representative. The individual’s name should be on your company health and safety bulletin board. They can help you with company processes on how to report a hazard.


4. Talk to Your Supervisor

  • Tell your supervisor that you think that the work is unsafe.
  • Explain the specific concern and how someone might get hurt.
  • Share ideas that you have to make the work safer.


5. If you Still Feel the Work is Unsafe. Stop.

  • In Ontario you have the right to refuse work that you believe is dangerous to either your co-workers or yourself.
  • Tell your supervisor that you think that the work is unsafe and you are refusing to work. You need to stay at the job site when you do this. Your complaint will be investigated and your health and safety representative can be there to support you. Ask for them if you need.

You have Safety Rights at Work… do you know what they are?

Ontario workers have rights in the workplace and it is important that you understand these rights. These rights are set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and it doesn’t matter your age or role. If you are a worker or a supervisor you are still a worker.

In Ontario the Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out three basic rights:

  • Right to participate
  • Right to know
  • Right to refuse unsafe work

Read more to find out what this means for you.


External Links

Half of Working Women in Canada Have Endured Sexual Harassment

Canada Labour Code defines sexual harassment as “any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee; or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.”

Did you know?

  • 50% of working women in Canada say they have experienced a “significant amount” (5%), a “moderate amount” (12%) or a “small amount” (33%) of sexual harassment over their careers.
  • More than half of working women in Canada (54%) say they have experienced conduct, comments, gestures or contact of a sexual nature that caused them offence or humiliation
  • Three-in-ten (30%) experienced conduct, comments, gestures or contact of a sexual nature that they perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on their employment or on any opportunity they might have for training or promotion.
  • Only 28% of working women in Canada who endured behaviour that placed a condition on their employment or future career reported it to a superior and/or human resources department.
  • Even fewer (22%) filed a complaint after being offended or humiliated by somebody else’s behaviour.


If you are being harassed at work please read our article What can I do if I’m Being Bullied or Harasses at Work


To learn more read the research article found at the link below.