Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board

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Workers’ right to refuse

Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.

If a worker has reasonable cause to believe that performing a job or task puts them or someone else at risk, they must not perform the job or task. They must immediately notify their supervisor or employer, who will then take the appropriate steps to determine if the work is unsafe and remedy the situation.

For employers, workers are the eyes and ears on the front line of workplace health and safety. When workers refuse work because they believe it's unsafe, employers should consider it an opportunity to investigate and correct a situation that could have caused harm.

If a worker refuses work because it's unsafe, workplace procedures should allow the issue to be properly understood and corrected. Workers always have the right to refuse to perform a specific job or task they believe is unsafe without being disciplined by their employer. Their employer or supervisor may temporarily assign a new task to the worker, at no loss in pay.

Steps to follow when work might be unsafe

Step 1: Report the unsafe condition or procedure

Workers must immediately report the unsafe condition to a supervisor or employer.

Supervisors or employers must investigate the matter and fix it if possible. If the supervisor or employer decides the worker's concern is not valid, that must be reported back to the worker.

Step 2: If a worker still views work as unsafe after a supervisor or employer has said it is safe to perform a job or task

Supervisors or employers must investigate the problem and ensure any unsafe condition is fixed.

This investigation must take place in the presence of the worker and a worker representative of the joint health and safety committee or a worker chosen by the worker's trade union. If there is no safety committee or representing trade union at the workplace, the worker who first reported the unsafe condition can choose to have another worker present at the investigation.

Step 3: If a worker still views work as unsafe, notify Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board

If the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board by calling 867-667-5450 or 800-661-0443, or by emailing worksafe@gov.yk.ca. A safety officer will then investigate and take steps to find a workable solution.