Among other responsibilities (see "My health and safety rights" on this web site), under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act, a worker is required to:
This means if you know there is a problem or hazard with the work you're assigned or if you notice something wrong that could hurt someone else, you have a legal duty to tell your boss.
Do it immediately. Don't work in the unsafe conditions and wait to tell your boss at break time, that may be too late.
Management is responsible for your health and safety, has the power to make the necessary modifications to equipment, and deliver the appropriate training, including making sure you know about the hazards in your job.
Make sure you ask your boss for a full explanation so that all your questions are answered. Most supervisors have a lot of experience and should be able to answer all your questions.
If you would like to talk to someone else about it, ask the worker member of the Health and Safety Committee (which exist in workplaces where there are 20 or more workers other than a construction project) or the worker Health and Safety Representative (where there are six - 19 workers). They can check out the situation, give you advice or argue on your behalf if they feel there are hazards in the job.
Certain worker members of the health and safety committee who have had additional training are called "Certified Members". If they feel the circumstances warrant it, these certified members have the additional right to stop unsafe work and call an immediate investigation into the circumstances. The worker and management Certified Members have procedures to follow that should result in either agreement that the situation won't endanger you, or correction of the problem.
If the company you work for has a health and safety department (many large companies do), see one of their health and safety professionals. It's part of their job to answer questions and give advice.
If there is a union, the union steward or union safety representative will be able to advise you because they monitor health and safety concerns.
If you are a student working in a co-op placement, talk to your teacher. You can also learn more about health and safety by checking out information on the Internet. Try www.ywap.ca or check out the health and safety links to find some of Ontario's safety associations.
You can also call your the Ontario Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre. Explain the situation and get their advice. You don't have to give your name. They may come to the workplace and check out the situation you mentioned, but if you don't want to be identified, they'll explain their visit as a routine inspection so that the employer doesn't know you alerted the inspector.
It's easy to tell you to talk to your supervisor about health and safety concerns, but let's get real. You might be thinking, "I don't want to look stupid or sound like I don't know what I'm doing. And I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I like my job and need the money and don't want to lose it."
You have experience talking with your parents, teachers, friends and other adults in your life, but not the boss. It's a different type of relationship and it may be intimidating.
Let's face it. Your employer is responsible to train and supervise you and make sure your work is safe, but your employer can't be expected to judge whether or not you're comfortable with the information you received or confident that you can do the job correctly and safely. Everyone is different. Everyone has different experiences in their past to draw from, so you need to talk to the supervisor when:
Here are some tips.
At the same time, make sure you get the answers you need and the problem receives attention as soon as possible. Don't operate machinery, or do any task you think isn't safe, until the problem is checked out.
Talk to your supervisor or employer. Talk to the worker member of the health and safety committee or the worker health and safety representative. Talk to the health and safety department (if there is one).
Ask other workers on the job. Find experienced workers who have done the job for some time and talk to them about your concerns. They may have suggestions for making the job safer or how to go about getting the information you need.
How about outside the job? Talk to your parents or other adults who have workplace experience. Many issues you may face may not be new to more experienced workers. They may offer a fresh perspective, talk about how they handled a similar situation or provide you with advice on how to act on your concerns. No one wants to see you injured at work, especially your friends and family.
You may already know about some of the dangers you face in the workplace, but every task, each new day and any new set of circumstances can introduce new hazards into your job.
Learn more about hazards on this website.
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