Walking away from unsafe work

Do your supervisors know how to handle a work refusal?
By Philip Bender
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/20/2004

Production is already behind when an employee stops work amid safety worries. Is the concern valid? How should the supervisor proceed? Tough questions, but the law is well-laid out and employers needn’t wonder how to respond.

A worker’s right to refuse unsafe work is entrenched in health and safety laws across Canada. As workers and unions become more cognizant of potential workplace hazards, the likelihood that workers exercise this right to refuse unsafe work increases.

It is increasingly important for supervisors and managers to be familiar with what the law requires as related to work refusals and allegations of unsafe work or working conditions. The economic consequences of an improperly handled work refusal can be significant. With the enactment of federal Bill C-45, known as the corporate killing law, criminal consequences could also be lurking.