Workplace Health and Safety
All workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace – it’s the law.
Unfortunately, thousands of Manitobans each year continue to be injured on the job or develop illnesses from dangerous conditions at work. Some never make it home at all. Workplace tragedies don’t have to happen. We can take action to ensure that workers make it home safely every day. With the right investments in prevention, backed-up by strong laws and strict enforcement, we can ensure that all workers stay safe on the job.
Your employer’s responsibilities:
Under the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act, employers have primary responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace, and can face penalties and fines for putting the health and safety of workers at risk. The law focuses first and foremost on the employer’s responsibility to eliminate workplace hazards. Under the law:
- First, employers must make every reasonable effort to eliminate workplace hazards;
- Second, if any risk remains the employer must then take reasonable steps to control remaining risks;
- Third, if any uncontrolled risk remains, the employer has a responsibility to implement safe work procedures to reduce the remaining risk; and
- Finally, only after all of the above measures have been taken to eliminate, control and reduce risk, the employer must ensure workers exposed to any remaining risk use personal protective equipment.
In addition to these general responsibilities, your employer is required to provide you with specific things to protect you from injury and illness. These include workplace safety and health training, adequate supervision, proper tools and equipment, and anything else you need to do your job safely.
Employers’ responsibilities are spelled out in Section 4 of the Act.
Worker health & safety rights:
The Manitoba Federation of Labour fought long and hard to enshrine workers’ fundamental health and safety rights in law – they include:
You have the right to know about dangers in your workplace, and how to protect yourself from them. This right is fulfilled partly through your employer meeting their obligation to provide training and supervision.
You 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 and communication with your Health and Safety Committee, which is required in all workplaces with 20 or more employees. For more information on WHS Committees see Section 40 of the Act.
You have the right to refuse to work in conditions known or believed to be dangerous. If you exercise this right, there are specific steps that must be followed to investigate and address the reported hazard.
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 includes exercising the three rights described above and any other rights you have under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. If your employer does something (demotion, dismissal, etc.) that you think is a reprisal for you exercising a right, contact your union representative or the Workplace Safety and Health Branch at: Winnipeg: 204-957-SAFE (7233) or Toll-free: 1-855-957-SAFE (7233) Remember, the onus is on the employer to show their actions were not a reprisal.
MFL Health & Safety Conference
Every year, the Manitoba Federation of Labour hosts a Health & Safety Conference to share recent health and safety findings and best practices, and to train workers and union activists in health and safety work and advocacy.
A copy of the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations for more information about health and safety laws in Manitoba: