Under Policy 34, Health, Safety and Environment, Section 4 B "Members of the University community have the right to refuse work or assignments that they believe are unsafe. In such cases the refusal must be immediately reported to their supervisor. The supervisor must investigate the situation as prescribed by University procedures."
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states that a worker may refuse to work or do particular work where they have reason to believe that:
- Any equipment, machine, device or thing the worker is to use or operate is likely to endanger them or another worker
- The physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which they work or are to work is likely to endanger them, for example:
- Air quality - exposure to chemicals and particles
- Noise level
- Lighting - level of illumination
- Climate - extreme cold or hot/humid atmosphere
- Workplace violence is likely to endanger them
- Any equipment, machine, device or thing they are to use or operate or the physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which they work or are to work is in contravention of the OHSA or regulations and such contravention is likely to endanger them
The OHSA sets out a specific procedure to be followed by workers, supervisors and Joint Health, Safety and Environment Committee (JHSC) members in a work refusal. The work refusal procedure should only begin after a worker has made a complaint to a supervisor about a health and safety concern. Refer to the work refusal process flow chart for more detail.
A worker has the duty to work in accordance to the OHSA and the regulations and has the right to seek their enforcement. The employer is not allowed to discipline a worker who has obeyed the law. However, this provision does not apply if the work refusal was made in bad faith, or if the worker continues to refuse after the Ministry of Labour inspector finds that the work is not likely to endanger the worker.