Workplace health and safety laws protect you, the worker, against hazards on the job. As a worker, you not only have rights to protect yourself while on the job, but you also have certain responsibilities.
Understanding Your Rights
Right to Know
You have the right to know about hazards in your workplace. Your employer should teach you how these hazards can affect you and your co-workers. The first step is to get proper health and safety training. This includes learning how to identify workplace hazards and knowing what to do if there is an incident or spill
Right to Participate
You have the right to be involved in health and safety concerns in your workplace. You can participate through a safety representative at your workplace, or be involved in your workplace health and safety committee.
Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
You have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you have reasonable grounds to believe the work you do or the piece of equipment you use is unsafe, you can stop this work immediately. There are steps in place to correct unsafe workplace situations so you can return to work.
Contact your supervisor or health and safety representative to find out how to correct the unsafe situation. You shouldn't work until your employer corrects the situation. Your employer cannot lay you off, or suspend or penalize you for refusing unsafe work if you follow the proper procedures.
Understanding Your Responsibilities
Follow Safety Rules
Safety rules and regulations exist for everyone in every workplace. While you employer has to make sure you know what these are, you are responsible for following these rules. This includes wearing the proper safety equipment. When it comes to safety, there are no shortcuts.
Ask For Training
Your employer is responsible for making sure you have proper safety training, but your employer might not know if there are gaps in your training. If you feel you need more training to do a job safely, ask for it.
Report Incidents and Unsafe Work Conditions
You should report any incidents and unsafe work practices or conditions you see. For example; if you notice a frayed an electrical power cord, notify your supervisor as soon as possible to fix it before an incident or fatality occurs.
Everyone needs to have their tasks explained. Your employer should first explain your job duties, and then show you what to do. If you understand these tasks, you should be able to explain them back to your supervisor. Remember, if you don't understand the instructions, ask questions. Understanding instructions means that you will have a much greater chance of doing the work properly and safely.
- Learn how to work safely - remember to apply safety rules.
- Don't perform any task until you get proper training.
- If you feel you have been getting too much information, too fast, ask your supervisor to slow down and repeat the instructions.
- Don't leave your work area unless your employer tells you to do so. Other work sites may have special hazards you don't know about. For example, there might be overhanging power lines, slippery floors, or toxic chemicals.
- If you are unsure of something, ask someone first. A supervisor or co-worker might help you prevent an incident.
- Don't hesitate to ask for more training.
- Wear the proper personal protective equipment for the task. Be sure that you know when to wear protective gear, where to find it, how to use it, and how to care for it.
- Find out what to do in an emergency; whether it is a fire alarm, power failure, or other situation.
- Report any incidents to your supervisor immediately.