The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is designed to protect workers from workplace hazards.
There are duties for all workplace parties and rights for workers. Employers are responsible to establish safe workplaces and to appoint supervisors who know and apply OHS law and principles at work. The Act sets out how to deal with hazards and establishes enforcement for violations of the law. The workplace Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is implicit in the act and the key to success in workplace health and safety.
The Act gives workers the “right to know,” the “right to participate” and the “right to refuse unsafe work.”
Supporting the Joint Health and Safety Committee is an important way that workers can exercise their “right to participate” in workplace health and safety. The JHSC is made up of worker and management representatives and has the power to:
- Identify hazards.
- Obtain information from employer.
- Make recommendations to employer.
- Investigate work refusals.
- Investigate serious accidents.
The following guidance documents produced by ONA will help you to learn more about OHS rights and responsibilities in your workplace.
Ministry of Labour / Guidance Notes
The Ministry of Labour can inspect workplaces or investigate complaints, injuries or accidents with a view to determining compliance with health and safety law.
When inspectors find violations, they can lay charges and prosecute offenders or issue orders. Consult with your ONA bargaining unit leadership and Labour Relations Officer for help, but if danger is imminent, call your local Ministry of Labour office.
The Ministry of Labour’s Section 21 Committee is a health care advisory committee established under Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). It has a mandate to advise and make recommendations to the Minister of Labour on matters relating to the occupational health and safety of health care workers in Ontario. The Committee has equal membership from employer associations and unions, and is facilitated by Ministry of Labour staff.
As part of the Committee’s work, it produces Guidance Notes (GNs) on topics relevant to health care workers’ health and safety. GNs provide advice on statutory requirements and good practices to assist the parties in preventing workplace injuries and illnesses.
All Notes are prepared, reviewed and agreed to by the employer and labour representatives of the Committee and approved by the Minsitry of Labour.
Section 21 Guidance Documents
Visit the websites below to obtain further information about rights and responsibilities in your workplace.