Occupational health and safety in federally regulated workplaces
No one knows a workplace better than the people who work in it, so Part II of the Canada Labour Code gives the workplace parties—the employees and employers—a strong role in identifying and resolving health and safety concerns.
The provisions of the Code are designed to strengthen employers' and employees' self-reliance in dealing with occupational health and safety issues and thereby making workplaces safer.
As an employee, you have a key role to play in preventing work-related injuries and diseases. First, you have to be careful and take the necessary precautions to ensure your own health and safety and that of any colleagues who may be affected by your work or activities.
- you enjoy rights under the Code: the right to know, the right to participate and the right to refuse dangerous work
- you also have duties with respect to your health and safety and that of your colleagues
- if you are pregnant or nursing, find out about your rights in Pregnant and nursing employees – Pamphlet 5
Rights of employees
The Canada Labour Code gives you the following rights:
Right to know
You have the right to be informed of known or foreseeable hazards in the workplace and to be provided with the information, instructions, training, and supervision necessary to protect your health and safety.
The Code requires the use of appropriate methods of communication for all employees including those with special needs. Such methods are Braille, large print, audiotapes, sign language, and oral communication.
In addition, you are given the right to have access to government or employer reports related to the health and safety of employees through your policy health and safety committee, workplace health and safety committee or health and safety representative.
Right to participate
As health and safety representatives or workplace health and safety committee or policy health and safety committee members, employees have the right to participate in identifying and correcting work-related health and safety concerns.
Employers with 300 or more employees are required to establish a policy health and safety committee. The purpose of the committee is to handle issues that are organization-wide in nature.
Part II of the Code also provides for employee participation through the use of an internal complaint resolution process.
Right to refuse
You have the right to refuse to work if you have reasonable cause to believe that:
- your workplace presents a danger to you
- the use or operation of a machine or apparatus presents a danger to you or to another employee, and
- the performance of an activity constitutes a danger to you or to another employee
In order for you to be protected by the Code when exercising your right to refuse to do dangerous work, you must follow the proper procedure. For information on this procedure and other aspects of the right to refuse dangerous work, see Right to refuse dangerous work – Pamphlet 4.
Duties of employees
As an employee under the Canada Labour Code, you are required to:
- use all safety materials, equipment, devices, and clothing that are provided by the employer and are intended to protect employees
- follow procedures relating to the health and safety of employees
- follow all instructions provided by the employer concerning the health and safety of employees
- co-operate with any person carrying out a duty or function required by the Code
- report to the employer any thing or circumstance that is likely to be hazardous to employees or any other person in the workplace
- report to the employer all work-related accidents, occupational diseases, or other hazardous occurrences that have caused injury to you or any other person
- report to the employer any situation you believe to be a contravention of Part II of the Code by the employer, another employee, or any other person
- comply with every oral or written direction given by a health and safety officer or an appeals officer
- respond in writing to a health and safety officer's direction or report when requested to do so by the health and safety officer
For more information, see:
As an employer, you play an important role in preventing workplace accidents and injuries, and promoting safe and healthy workplaces.
These responsibilities and obligations fall under Part II of the Canada Labour Code and apply to workplaces under federal jurisdiction only.
Employers must ensure that employees have the necessary information, training and supervision to perform their jobs safely. Managers, supervisors, health and safety committees and representatives must also understand their roles and responsibilities under the Code.
Information, training, and supervision
As an employer, you must ensure that employees have the necessary information, training, and supervision to perform their work safely. This includes:
- an appropriate understanding of overall work safety procedures
- knowledge of the safe use of workplace tools and equipment
- awareness of known or foreseeable workplace hazards
- (whenever possible) training sessions should include documentation
You must also ensure that health and safety committees/representatives understand their duties with respect to:
- maintaining regular meetings (this applies to committees only)
- conducting monthly inspections
- participating in accident investigations and job hazard analyses
In addition, you must ensure that managers and supervisors understand their duties related to the internal complaint resolution process, refusals to work, and accident investigations and reporting.
Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, employers are required to protect the health and safety of employees at work, by ensuring that employee complaints, including refusals to work, and accidents and injuries are properly investigated.
Regular inspections help ensure that occupational health and safety hazards are addressed before they result in possible injuries. Part II of the Canada Labour Code requires the health and safety committee/representative to carry out monthly inspections in the workplace in whole or in part.
In the event that a hazard is identified, and the committee/representative is not authorized to remove it, recommendations must be forwarded to the employer.
The employer is required to provide a written response to the committee/representative within 30 days on how the issue will be resolved.
Accident investigations and reporting
Accident investigations and reporting play an important role in preventing similar incidents from re-occurring in the future. Employers must report serious injuries to the Labour Program within 24 hours.
Employers must also submit written investigation reports to the Labour Program, for all temporary and permanent disabling injuries, within 14 days of the occurrence. The report must include all the information required on the Hazardous Occurrence Investigations Report – LAB1070.
Employers must submit three annual reports to the Labour Program: Employers Annual Hazardous Occurrence Report, Employer Annual Harassment and Violence Occurrence Report and the Work Place Committee Report.
For additional information on employer responsibilities related to occupational health and safety, please select the following:
- Accident investigation: A responsibility to be taken seriously
- Criminal liability for workplace deaths and injuries – Background on the Westray Law
- Employer and employee duties – Pamphlet 2A
- Guide to the investigation and reporting of hazardous occurrences
- Hazard prevention program guide
- Hazardous occurrence investigation recording and reporting – Pamphlet 7
- Hazardous substances
- Internal complaint resolution process – Pamphlet 3
- Job safety analysis made simple
- Managers and supervisors training – Pamphlet 2B
- Overview – Canada Labour Code, Part II
- Right to refuse dangerous work – Pamphlet 4
- Work place inspections – A matter of health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety Compliance standards
The following are the Labour Program’s Occupational Health and Safety Compliance standards for the fiscal year 2017-2018, which measure the Program’s performance with respect to key compliance activities involving stakeholders. Each occupational health and safety activity includes the Program’s performance target in relation to the standard, which indicates whether the Program is meeting the standard for the respective activity.
Completion of Occupational Health & Safety Assignments
- Our standard: Our goal is to finalize occupational health and safety cases within 120 days (excluding prosecutions, appeals and technical surveys).
- Our target: ESDC aims to meet this standard 70% of the time
- Our performance in 2017 to 2018: ESDC met this standard 80% of the time
Learn more about Occupational Health and Safety.
Refusal to Work (RTW) - Complaint
- Our standard: Health & Safety Officers or Early Resolution Officers will acknowledge a notification of a continued RTW, sent to the Labour Program by the employer, within 24 hours of receipt, by phone or email.
- Our target: The Labour Program aims to reach this standard 90% of the time.
Hazardous OccurrenceFootnote 1 14 day reportable
- Our standard: Health & Safety Officers will review the employer submitted Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report within 72 hours of receipt.
- Our target: The Labour Program aims to reach this standard 90% of the time.
Investigation of fatality or serious disabling injuryFootnote 2
- Our standard: Once notified of a fatality or serious disabling injury, the notice is acknowledged within two hours. The Labour Program aims to have a Health and Safety Officer on-site within 24 hours (where applicable), excluding motor vehicle accidents.
- Our target: The Labour Program aims to have a Health and Safety Officer on-site within 24 hours, 90% of the time.
Submitted OHS complaints
- Our standard: Once received, the OHS complaint is acknowledged within 72 hours.
- Our target: The Labour Program aims to reach this standard 80% of the time
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