Work Refusal Process & Your Joint Health and Safety Committee

According to Section 43 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA), a worker may refuse to do work where he / she has reason to believe that any set of unsafe conditions exist. If a worker believes that a piece of equipment, device, or machine is likely to endanger, or that the physical condition of the workplace is likely to endanger, then the worker has the right to refuse work. Additionally, if the worker believes that workplace violence is likely to endanger, or that any equipment or physical workplace is in contravention of any part of the OHSA the worker has the right to refuse work.

When a worker refuses unsafe work, it is the law that an investigation must follow. A worker does not need to be JHSC certified; however, having a certified worker member aid in the investigation can be beneficial for your company.

  • Certified JHSC members are more knowledgeable on the Work Refusal Process than non-certified JHSC members.
  • Trained worker members are equipped to investigate potentially unsafe work conditions.
  • Certified JHSC members can distinguish between work refusals and hazard reporting.
  • Having trained members that follow the JHSC process increases safety culture in the workplace.
  • Certified worker members can act as a source of support for the worker.

A work refusal can represent a valuable learning opportunity when the worker, certified JHSC member, and the supervisor work together to come to a resolution. Empowering worker members to be part of the solution increases employee buy-in and is a key component of increasing your Health and Safety program’s effectiveness.

Did you know…

  • Employees can refuse work on behalf of another worker?
  • Work refusals can be solved without including the Ministry of Labour when all parties involved in a refusal, work together?

Are your certified JHSC committee members familiar with the steps involved in a work refusal?

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