Right to Refuse
Note: Most workers in Alberta are covered under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulations and Code.*
*Please be aware that Alberta has NEW OHS LEGISLATION will be coming into effect in late 2021. We will be updating our resources to reflect these changes when they come into effect, including new rules about the Right to Refuse.
Workers belonging to a union may have additional Health and Safety protection under their Collective Bargaining Agreement.
You have the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work
Workers have the right to refuse a job if you have reasonable grounds to believe it may be unsafe or dangerous to yourself or others.
It is important to follow the proper process.
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.
4. 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