Right to Refuse
Workers have the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work
Most workers in Alberta are covered under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code. Alberta has new OHS Legislation as of December 1, 2021. Information from the Alberta Government on some of the changes including the Right to Refuse can be found HERE.
Some workers are Federally regulated, and are covered under the Canada Labour Code Part II. The Right to Refuse process for Federally regulated workers can be found HERE.
Workers belonging to a union may have additional Health and Safety protection and processes under their Collective Bargaining Agreement.
You have the right to refuse work if you believe it poses an “undue hazard” to yourself or others.
An “undue hazard” is a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of a person.
It is important to follow the proper process, under the new Alberta OHS Act (s.17):
You have been asked to do something you believe is dangerous (poses an undue hazard) to yourself or others.
You report to your supervisor, employer or other designated person that you are using your right to refuse because it is dangerous.
Your employer must inform the HSC or HS Rep (if there is one) as soon as possible. Then your employer must:
- Inspect the danger
- Take action to fix the danger
- Write a report of the work refusal, inspection, and actions taken (if they determined it was dangerous)
- Give a copy of the refusal report to you and the HSC or HS Rep (if there is one)
If you believe you are still in danger after receiving the report, or you believe your employer has not carried out their work refusal obligations, you can:
- Continue to refuse, and
- Notify 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 for more information on the right to refuse process and other health and safety concerns.
- The HSC or HS Rep can also contact OHS
Work assignments during a work refusal:
Your employer might send you to do another job for a short time. You cannot lose pay.
Your employer can require you to resume work or assign another worker to do the job if they have fixed the danger immediately, or conducted an inspection and given you a written report that it is safe.
If the employer learns that OHS has been notified, the employer must advise (in writing) any other worker assigned to do the task, of:
- The first worker’s refusal,
- The reason for the refusal,
- The reason why, in the opinion of the employer, the work is not an undue hazard
What is the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Contact Centre?
The OHS Contact Centre is part of the Alberta Government’s Ministry of Labour and Immigration. 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 health and safety 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