Workers in B.C. have the right to refuse unsafe work
If a worker has reasonable cause to believe that to carry out a work process would create an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person, they have the right to refuse to undertake such action. This is a collaborative process to ensure that individual workers can protect themselves and identify hazards to the employer.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation establishes the process that an individual refusing unsafe work must follow.
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Step #1: Informal Resolution
The worker must immediately report the circumstance of the unsafe condition or matter to the supervisor or employer. This means the worker is to safely stop working, immediately seek out their supervisor or an employer representative and remain at the workplace. The worker may be reassigned to other tasks during investigation of the matter.
The supervisor or employer must investigate the matter and:
- Ensure that any unsafe condition is corrected, or
- If in the supervisor's opinion the report is not valid, then inform the person who made the report.
Step #2: Formal Investigation
If informal resolution does not resolve the matter, and the worker continues to refuse to carry out a work process, the supervisor or employer must further investigate the matter. This investigation must be carried out in the presence of the worker who made the report and in the presence of:
- A worker representative of the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee, or
- A worker who is selected by a trade union representing the worker.
Following the investigation, the supervisor or employer must:
- Ensure that any unsafe condition is remedied, or
- If in the supervisor/employer’s opinion the report is not valid, then inform the person who made the report.
Step #3: WorkSafeBC Involvement
If the formal investigation does not resolve the matter, and the worker continues to refuse to carry out a work process, both the supervisor/employer and the worker must immediately notify WorkSafeBC, who will investigate the matter and take whatever actions are necessary.
Notification is made to the WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line.
For further training on this, enroll in the MyClass Course: OCCHS-01-RRW: Occupational Health & Safety: Rights & Responsibilities of Workers