Rights & Responsibilities

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Rights and Responsibilities

Everyone has the right to be safe and healthy at work. And everyone has to play their part to ensure that they and their colleagues go home at the end of the day in the same state of health they enjoyed when they arrived.

Did you know that employers and workers can now be prosecuted as criminals if they are negligent in their duties to keep others safe? That could mean huge fines and even going to jail.

Fortunately, safety regulations in each province describe exactly what you are expected to do to ensure a safe workplace. These responsibilities enable everyone’s rights and there can be severe legal penalties for failing to fulfill them.

Doing what we are required to do to fulfill each of our responsibilities is sometimes called “due diligence”. For more information on due diligence, please see the WorkSafeBC booklet Effective Health and Safety Programs: The Key to a Safe Workplace and Due Diligence. If you want to check up on how well you are currently fulfilling your due diligence responsibilities, click here for a due diligence checklist for employers.

Below are summaries of everyone's rights and responsibilities.

Employer Rights and Responsibilities

Employers are responsible for:

  • Establishing OHS policies and programs
  • Ensuring the health and safety of workers while they’re at work (including those employed by contractors)
  • Ensuring that workers are aware of all known or reasonably foreseeable hazards
  • Providing workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to protect their health and safety
  • Providing supervisors with the support and training necessary to carry out their health and safety responsibilities
  • Providing direction and delegating authority to those responsible for health and safety
  • Consulting and cooperating with people carrying out occupational health and safety duties
  • Controlling hazards (both environmental and human)
  • Coordinating safety practices on multi-employer worksites

Worker Rights and Responsibilities

Workers have to:

  • Take reasonable care to protect themselves and others
  • Comply with health and safety legislation in their area as well as any orders issued by health and safety officers
  • Follow established safe work procedures
  • Follow established procedures
  • Report any unsafe conditions or unsafe acts immediately
  • Refrain from engaging in horseplay or working while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or other causes

Workers have the right to refuse to do work that they have reasonable cause to believe would create an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person. In fact, in extreme hazard situations when safety is at high risk, it's more than a right – it's a responsibility.

Supervisor Rights and Responsibilities

A supervisor is anyone whose job includes giving instructions to other workers or monitoring them. Your actual job title might not be “supervisor” but if you are in charge of other workers or have authority to direct their actions at work, you have the legal responsibilities of one.

Supervisors must:

  • Ensure the health and safety of workers under their direct supervision
  • Be knowledgeable about the health and safety regulations and laws in their area and ensure that workers comply with them
  • Know the work processes, the hazards involved and effective control measures for the hazards
  • Ensure that workers are made aware of all known and reasonably forseeable hazards
  • Investigate unsafe conditions reported to them and ensure that corrective action is promptly taken
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