4-Step Program

Step 1: Get On Board

Everyone Has a Role in Safety

Regardless of skill level and experience, it is important to know that everyone has a role in safety! Every job has hazards, no matter how safe it looks.

Each day in Canada, more than forty workers under the age of 19 are injured on the job. In 2017, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, there were 951 workplace fatalities recorded in Canada. Among these deaths, twenty-three were young workers:  nineteen aged 20-24 and four aged 15-19. During the same period, 31,441 young workers lost time due to a work-related injury or disease:  23,269 between the ages of 20-24 and 8,172 between the ages of 15-19.

Studies show that new and young workers in are four times more likely to get injured during their first month on the job than at any other time. That’s because they often aren’t told about or don’t understand the hazards of the job. They don’t know what to expect from their employer, their supervisor and of themselves. Sometimes they aren’t sure what questions to ask. Sometimes they don’t even know whom to ask.

Occupational Health & Safety Legislation

In Canada, each province, territory and the federal government has its own Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. O H & S Legislation outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker through an Act and related Regulations. These Regulations define the application and enforcement of the Act.

Assigned health and safety duties under the Act are connected to the level of authority each person has in the workplace. To sort out all the duties in a workplace, they are broken down to three main levels of authority:

  1. The Employer
  2. The Supervisor
  3. The Worker

Duties of the Employer

  1. Ensure workers are aware of their rights and responsibilities under Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.
  2. Make sure workers know about hazards and dangers in the workplace and how to work safely.
  3. Make sure every supervisor knows how to take care of health and safety on the job.
  4. Create health and safety policies and procedures for the workplace.
  5. Make sure everyone knows and follows the health and safety procedures.
  6. Ensure that workers are not subjected to or participate in harassment or violence.
  7. Make sure workers wear and use the right protective equipment.
  8. Do everything reasonable to keep workers from getting hurt or sick on the job.

Duties of the Supervisor

  1. Tell workers about hazards and dangers in the workplace and show them how to work safely.
  2. Comply with Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and all workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  3. Report any hazard they find in the workplace to the employer.
  4. Ensure that workers are not subjected to or participate in harassment or violence.
  5. Make sure workers wear and use the right protective equipment.
  6. Do everything reasonable to keep workers from getting hurt or sick on the job

Duties of the Worker

  1. Comply with Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and all workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  2. Always wear or use the protective equipment that the employer requires.
  3. Work and act in a way that won’t hurt them or any other worker.
  4. Report any hazard they find in the workplace to their supervisor.
  5. Refrain from causing or participating in harassment or violence.

Rights of the Worker

Provincial and Territorial occupational health and safety legislation says that your employer and your supervisor have to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for your protection.” That means they have to do everything that is reasonable to protect you on the job.

You have the right to be informed about the hazards in the work you do and to be instructed on how to do your work safely. If someone asks you to do work that you don’t know enough about, your employer and supervisor are responsible for making sure you know how to do the work safely. That’s why you have the right to speak up and ask questions – even if you are hesitant. Workers can get hurt on the job if they don’t have the right information and training.

You should never have to be worried that you will be reprimanded for asking questions, reporting a problem or expecting your employer and supervisor to follow health and safety regulations. Occupational Health and Safety Legislation is very clear. It is against the law for your employer or your supervisor to:

  • fire or punish you for following health and safety regulations;
  • threaten to fire or punish you for following health and safety regulations.

This is called a “reprisal”. You also have the right to refuse to do unsafe work if you have reason to believe it puts you or your co-workers in danger.

Step 2: Get in the Know

You Need to Know About Hazards on the Job

A hazard is anything in the workplace that could hurt you or the people you work with. There is a hazard at the root of every work-related death, injury or sickness. A hazard can take many forms. Sometimes more than one hazard can combine to make an even bigger hazard. You need to know about the hazards in your workplace before you start working.

Some common workplace hazards include:

  • Repeating the same movements over and over, especially if you are in an awkward position or you use a lot of force. Think of someone who bends down all day, or someone who lifts heavy items over and over again, especially above the shoulders or below the knees.
  • Slipping, tripping or falling. Think of something as simple as spilled liquid on the floor, a cluttered work area, or a raised platform with no guardrails.
  • Working near motorized vehicles. Think of being hit by a dump truck that is backing up on a construction site… or a worker getting hit by a forklift in a warehouse or on a loading dock.
  • Using or working near machinery. Over the years, many workers have been killed or seriously injured by the equipment they operated.
  • Workplace violence. It can happen in many workplaces such as to a gas station attendant working alone at night, or to a health care worker or a home care worker in those settings; or conflicts between workers that escalate.

Step 3: Get Involved

Working Together for Safety

Understanding occupational health and safety legislation of your province or territory is all about knowing the health and safety duties of all workplace parties and the rights of workers, and putting them into action. We all have to get involved. 

If an employer knows about a hazard and doesn’t try to eliminate or reduce it, or inform workers about it and how to deal with it, that employer is not doing what the law requires.

If a supervisor knows about a hazard and doesn’t explain to workers how to deal with it, that supervisor is not doing what the law requires.

If a worker knows about a hazard and doesn’t report it to the supervisor or the employer, that worker is not doing what the law requires. If you see a hazard on the job or a “close call or near miss incident”, report it to your supervisor or employer immediately, or when safe to do so.


Provincial and Territorial Occupational Health and Safety Legislation gives you the right to participate and get involved in keeping your workplace safe and healthy. To be actively involved, you can:

  1. Ask questions when you’re not sure about something.

  2. Volunteer to become a worker member of the Joint Health & Safety Committee or a Health and Safety Representative.

  3. Help your Joint Health & Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative with health and safety inspections by pointing out potential hazards if your work area.

  4. Take your health and safety training seriously and put what you learn into practice in your job.

Step 4: Get More Help

You are Not Alone

If you see something unsafe that could injure someone, you need to report it to your supervisor or your employer immediately, or when safe to do so. It is also a good idea to tell a Joint Health & Safety Committee member or representative if there is one. If you have exhausted all internal procedures of redress with your supervisor, employer, Joint Health & Safety Committee member or representative, union if applicable, and Human Resources, and the health and safety issue still exists, you can call the government department responsible for health and safety in your jurisdiction at their toll-free number. Their job is to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses through enforcing Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and related Regulations under the Act.

Be a Safety Role Model!

The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

All workers have the right to refuse work if they have reason to believe it’s dangerous. You can also refuse work if you have reason to believe your work environment is likely to endanger you or a co-worker, or that you or a co-worker is in danger from workplace violence.

Some workers, such as nurses, firefighters and police officers cannot refuse work if the danger is a normal part of their job or if refusing work would put someone else in danger.

Say NO to

Unsafe Work

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