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Experts Speak

Seven Workplace Safety Rights You Have in Canada

It’s easy to neglect your health and safety at work. Between deadlines, distractions, and the allure of home at the end of a long day, sometimes it can be difficult to really take care of yourself. However, when you don’t take good care of yourself, the consequences could be dangerous or even deadly. 

In Canada, workers enjoy job safety and health protection under the Canadian Labour Code. This code establishes different workers’ health and safety rights to protect employees’ well-being at work and help prevent on-the-job injuries. 

workplace law

You can learn more by talking to an employment lawyer, but for now, if you’re an employee in Canada, here are seven workplace safety rights you need to know.

1. The Right to Know What Hazards Are Present in the Workplace

Knowing what hazards might be present in your place of work is the first step towards avoiding them and staying safe and healthy. You have the right to know what might be dangerous to your health and safety in your place of work. 

Before you ever begin actually working, your employer or supervisor should give you a thorough tour of the workplace, showing you what is safe and what is not. Aside from this, your employer should also clearly communicate this with everyone whether through braille, large print, audio, sign language, or vocally. 

2. The Right to Participate in Keeping Your Workplace Healthy and Safe 

You have the right to participate in keeping your workplace healthy and safe. This essentially makes every employee a health and safety representative for the workplace. You might participate in a health and safety committee, which is required for employers with 300 or more employees.

Smaller companies are required to have an internal system for health and safety complaints, which you should participate in. 

3. The Right to Refuse Work That You Believe to Be Dangerous to Yourself or Your Co-Workers

Long gone are the days when employers could send men into a dark and dangerous cave without any protective equipment. In the past, employees couldn’t refuse risky work due to fear of losing their jobs. 

Under Canada’s Labour Code, you can refuse any work that would be dangerous to yourself or your co-workers. 

4. The Right to No Retaliation 

If you’re concerned about the health and safety of yourself or others in your place of work, you’re able to submit a formal complaint without having to worry about repercussions from your employer. 

In case you’re in an unsafe work environment, you’re protected from the threat of unemployment, and your employer will need to meet safety requirements of the state. 

5. The Right to Standard Work Hours

As a full-time employee, you’re not legally obligated to work more than 40 hours per week, and no more than eight hours in a single day. 

This varies between professions, as some may require you to only work two to three days a week. If you’re concerned about how much your employer is asking of you, it may be beneficial to seek consultation with an employment lawyer. 

6. The Right to Take a Break

Working an eight-hour shift can take a toll on anyone’s focus and productivity—especially without a break. The probability of accidents and workplace injuries occurring increases significantly when employees work long hours without breaks. 

That’s why Canadian employers are required to provide an unpaid, 30-minute break to every employee for every five consecutive hours of work in a single day. If the employer needs the employee on break to be available for work purposes, the break should be paid. 

7. The Right to a Rest Period

The last thing you probably want to do after a long day on the job is to rest for less than a few hours and head straight back. Every situation is slightly different, but according to Canada’s Labour Code, employers cannot schedule two shifts for one person with less than eight hours in between them. 

This means that if you get off work at 22:00, your next shift should be no sooner than 06:00 the next day. There are exceptions, however, which you can read more about here

Final Thoughts

Workers’ health and safety rights are an important part of safeguarding the rights and well-being of Canadian workers. These rights include access to a safe workplace, information about their rights, the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to equal treatment, and the right to receive workplace health and safety training.

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by Jennifer

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