Though many of us know that there are provincial regulations regarding health and safety in our workplace, few realize what those specific rights and regulations are. Knowing and understanding your rights at work is the first step in ensuring both employers and employees have a safe work environment. Understanding the situations in which these rules can be enforced not only protects employees, but it protects employers from many potential legal issues.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) is working to help ensure these rights are better known to workers and employers alike. Following a recommendation by the Expert Advisory Panel on workplace safety, the MOL has released a poster outlining the rights and responsibilities of workers and their employers which, by law, must now be displayed in the workplace. This was done as part of an effort to streamline and clarify sec. 25(1)(i) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act which requires employers to post material in the workplace explaining the Act.
The one-page poster, called “Health and Safety at work – Prevention Starts Here”, outlines workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of employers and supervisors. It highlights that employers must not take action against their workers for raising concerns or, in certain cases, refusing to work if they feel their right to safe work environment is being violated. It encourages workers to become involved in health and safety at their work and includes a toll-free number for the MOL with instructions about why and when to contact the MOL.
The MOL inspectors will begin enforcing the requirement to display the poster on October 1, 2012, but employers and employees shouldn’t wait to post it, or to familiarize themselves with the regulations. The poster is available in 17 different languages and can be downloaded from the MOL website here.