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Refusing Unsafe Work: Not Just a Right, It’s Your Duty

We often talk about the Right to Refuse unsafe work, and encourage workers of all ages to exercise that right. But did you know that this is not just a right, it is a legal obligation that you hold as an employee? Section 35 of the Alberta OH&S Act states that:

(1) No worker shallAB OH&S

(a) carry out any work if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that there exists an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker,

(b) carry out any work if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that it will cause to exist an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker or another worker present at the work site, or

(c) operate any tool, appliance or equipment if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that it will cause to exist an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker or another worker present at the work site.

(2) In this section, “imminent danger” means in relation to any occupation

(a) a danger that is not normal for that occupation, or

(b) a danger under which a person engaged in that occupation would not normally carry out the person’s work.

The Act goes on to state that the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable and that the employer must investigate and take action, ensure that no worker is assigned to perform the unsafe work identified until the imminent danger has been eliminated and prepare a written record of the notification, investigation and action taken, a copy of which must be given to the worker.

This is only one example of the collective responsibility we all have to maintain a safe work environment for everyone – employers and employees alike, at all levels. Learn more about your role in maintaining a safe work environment by enrolling in our Alberta OH&S Awareness and Your Rights and Responsibilities at Work courses. Through these courses, you will learn all about the legal framework in Alberta that protects you, your coworkers and your employers from needless injuries and fatalities, and how this legislation applies to you while on the job.

Safety: It’s your right, and your responsibility.