Right to Refuse Dangerous Work during Covid-19

Right to Refuse Dangerous Work during Covid-19

Workplaces in Alberta have been affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This has left many workers wondering how they can protect themselves and their workplaces from the virus. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is more important than ever.

Situations that could trigger a work refusal could include:

  • A danger that is not addressed by normal hazard controls
  • A danger that would normally stop work
  • A situation for which you are not properly trained, equipped, or experienced

The process to follow under Alberta OHS law:

  1. You have been asked to do something you believe is dangerous to yourself or others.
  2. You refuse to do the job because it is not safe and report to your supervisor, employer or other designated person.
  3. If your supervisor does not fix the danger immediately then they must:
  • inspect the danger with you and either:
    • the Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee (HSC) co-chair or member representing workers, or
    • the Health and Safety Representative (H&S Rep), or
    • another worker selected by you if either of the above is not possible
  • Take action to fix the danger.
  • Write a report of the work refusal, inspection, and actions taken. They must also give you a copy.

Your supervisor might send you to do another job for a short time. You cannot lose pay.

  1. If you believe you are still in danger, you can:
  • Continue to refuse, and
  • Call and make a complaint with the Alberta Government’s Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre.
    • Phone: toll-free: 1-866-415-8690, Edmonton: 780-415-8690
  • You can call the OHS Contact Centre at any time
  • ALL calls are confidential.

Assigning another worker to do the job:

If the employer determines it is safe to do so, they may assign another worker to do the work, but they must advise that worker in writing, of:

  • The first worker’s refusal,
  • The reason for the refusal,
  • The reason why, in the opinion of the employer, the work does not constitute a danger
  • That worker’s right to refuse dangerous work

What is the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Contact Centre?

The OHS Contact Centre is part of the Alberta Government’s Ministry of Labour. If you have any questions about health and safety, you can call them anonymously – you don’t have to give your name. You can call with someone else, you can also call for someone else who may have a H&S concern about their workplace:

Toll-free: 1-866-415-8690, Edmonton: 780-415-8690

You can also “Ask an Expert” through their website: https://www.alberta.ca/ask-expert.aspx