Your health & safety rights

Health & Safety at Work: Workers' Rights

Four fundamental worker rights are the foundation of Manitoba's workplace health & safety rules:

Workers have the Right To Know about dangers in the workplace

You have the right to know about any dangers you may encounter in the workplace, and how to protect yourself from them.

You have the right to receive safety and health training before you begin work and when your work changes.

You have the right to work under a competent supervisor who can show you how to perform your work safely.

How do you know if your ‘right to know’ is being looked after? Ask yourself:

  • Is health and safety information visibly posted in your workplace? If not, is the information readily available?
  • Is there a health and safety program at your workplace?
  • Has your employer provided any safety and health training?

Workers have the Right To Participate in the day-to-day detection, evaluation and elimination/reduction of workplace hazards

You have the right to participate in health and safety activities and discussions in the workplace. Often, this right is exercised through involvement in health and safety committees and meetings.

Workplaces with 20 or more employees are required to have a Health and Safety Committee. Workplaces with 10-19 employees are required to have a Worker Safety and Health Representative elected by non-management staff.

Workers have the Right To Refuse unsafe work

The law protects your right to refuse work in conditions known or believed to be dangerous.

To refuse work you believe is unsafe, there are three steps you need to

Step 1: Immediately report the situation to your supervisor, giving your reason for refusing to work.

Your supervisor will inspect the worksite area and take action to fix the dangerous condition(s).

Stay at your workplace for your normal working hours, unless you are working alone.

In the meantime, your employer will assign you to other work and cannot assign or require any other worker to perform the task your reported to be unsafe unless that worker has been informed (by the refusing worker or Safety and Health Officer) that a refusal is in progress and the reason for the refusal. If the other worker believes the condition is not dangerous, they can choose to do the work. You will be assigned to other work until the matter is resolved.

If the employer resolves the matter to your satisfaction, you can go back to work.

BUT if you still believe the work is dangerous...

Step 2: Bring the matter to the attention of the Safety and Health Committee or Representative (if one exists), as soon as possible, giving the reasons for refusing to work. If you do not have a Committee or a Representative, go immediately to Step 3.

If you or the committee/representative still believes the work is dangerous...

Step 3: Call your nearest Workplace Safety and Health Office at 204-945-3446 (or toll free 1-866-888-8186) and explain your situation.
An officer immediately will investigate and rule on whether or not the work is in considered to be dangerous.

The decision of an Officer can be appealed to the Manitoba Labour Board.

If you have exercised your right to refuse and you are told to go home, DO NOT leave the job site. Contact the Provincial Safety and Health Officer immediately and tell them where you will be so they can speak with you. Remember, you are only refusing to carry out that particular work which you believe is dangerous to your health or safety until it has been remedied to your satisfaction. If you are offered alternate work and it is not dangerous to your health and safety, you must perform those duties as assigned. If no alternate work is assigned, you are entitled to your usual pay until the refusal is resolved.

Download a summary of this refusal procedure HERE

Workers have the Right to Protection from discrimination or punishment for exercising their safety and health rights

It is illegal for an employer to discipline or discriminate against a worker who tries to protect themselves or another worker from unsafe or unhealthy working conditions.

This legal protection extends to:

  • your right to know, your right to participate and your right to refuse unsafe work;
  • your right to report safety and health concerns to a supervisor/boss,  to a health and safety committee/representative, to your union, or to the government's Workplace Safety and Health Division;
  • any other rights you have under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

These rights are the law in Manitoba — and employers who don't respect them can face financial penalties.

Download a poster about these rights for your workplace.

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