OHSA rights & responsibilities

The Occupational Health Safety Act (OHSA) defines duties and responsibilities in workplaces. Below is a summary of duties and responsibilities as listed in the OHSA, for a full description please visit the Ministry of Labour website.

Employer - University of Waterloo departments

  • Instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety.
  • Appoint competent persons as supervisors.
  • "Competent person" means under the OHSA a person who:
    • is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance
    • is familiar with the OHSA and the regulations that apply to the work and
    • has knowledge about any potential or actual danger to health and safety in the workplace.
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker


  • Ensure that a worker complies with the OHSA and regulations.
  • Ensure that any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer is used or worn by the worker.
  • Advise a worker of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor.
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers.

It is also a supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that workers receive proper job-specific training in the workplace with regard to equipment operation, hazard awareness and personal protective equipment. A faculty or staff member who supervises a paid worker (Student Research Assistants, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Technicians, Apprentices, etc.) is considered a “supervisor”. 

Employees (workers)

  • Work in compliance with the OHSA and regulations.
  • Use or wear any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer.
  • Report to the employer or supervisor any known missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous.
  • Report any known workplace hazard to the employer or supervisor.
  • Report any known contravention of the OHSA or regulations to the employer or supervisor.
  • Do not remove or make ineffective any protective device required by the employer or by the regulations.
  • Do not use or operate any equipment or work in a way that may endanger any worker.
  • Do not engage in any prank, contest, feat of strength, unnecessary running or rough and boisterous conduct.

Everyone employed at the University is considered to be a worker. Also, students paid as Research or Teaching Assistants are deemed as workers. 

Workers’ rights

Under the OHSA and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulations workers have the following basic rights in the workplace: