Right to Participate
Workers have the Right to Participate in activities affecting our health and safety.
We have the right to be involved in our own health and safety, and our co-workers’ health and safety.
Alberta’s new OHS Legislation is now in effect. Information from the Alberta Government on some of the changes can be found HERE.
The Right to Participate – being involved and having a say in our own health and safety – is important because workers are the ones doing the job and we are the ones who will be affected if we are exposed to hazards.
We can participate in many ways:
- Learning about health and safety issues from others in the workplace – especially people who have worked there longer than us and appear to be concerned with health and safety.
- Asking our supervisors and co-workers health and safety questions like “What are the dangers of my job?” “How can I do this job safely?” “Who do I talk to if I have a health and safety concern?”
- Letting our supervisor and co-workers know if we feel like something we have been asked to do is dangerous (Right to Refuse).
- Being involved in our worksite Health and Safety Committee (HSC), or as a Health and Safety Representative (HS Rep).
- Being involved in choosing the worker HSC members or HS Rep.
- Getting involved in our union by taking health and safety courses and helping other union members.
- Thinking about the most effective way to protect workers from hazards, not just the cheapest way (use the Hierarchy of Controls).
- Contacting the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre if we have any questions about health and safety.
- Talking to our families, friends, co-workers and others about health and safety.
What is a Health and Safety Committee (HSC)?
An HSC consists of worker and management representatives who meet regularly to discuss health and safety issues of the workplace, identify ways to address them, and make recommendations to the employer to make things safer.
Some of the committee’s responsibilities are to:
- Respond to health and safety concerns and suggestions from workers
- Be involved in hazard assessments
- Recommend elimination and control measures to better protect workers
- Review worksite inspection reports
- Support workers who exercise their right to refuse dangerous work
In Alberta, a committee is required by law for employers who have 20 or more regularly employed workers. A site-specific HSC is required for work sites with multiple employers that have 20 or more regularly employed workers. (Worksites with a Prime Contractor do not require an HSC, but do require a person responsible for coordinating health and safety between workers and employers.)
The committee must be co-chaired by both a worker and a management member, with additional committee members representing management and workers (to be selected by workers and/or by the union(s) representing unionized workers).
What is a Health and Safety Representative (HS Rep)?
A Health and Safety Representative (HS Rep) is required by employers who have between 5-19 regularly employed workers. A site-specific HS Rep is required for work sites with multiple employers that have 5-19 regularly employed workers.
The HS Rep is a worker, and should be chosen by other workers. An HS Rep carries out some of the same duties as a committee.