Who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?

The employer. That responsibility includes a number of specific responsibilities.

But ensuring the employer lives up to their responsibility takes work.

From everyone.

From union representatives to individual members of the union. We all need not only to enjoy our rights but also to know when they are being violated.

Specific duties of employers

These duties apply not only to the workplace but also to every work activity whether in another workplace or outside, to the extent that the employer controls the activity. Activities performed outside of the workplace and third party premises are now covered by (s.125(1)).

The Duties of the employer include, among others, the following:

  • make readily available to workers for examination, in printed or electronic form, a copy of the regulations (s.125(1)(e));
  • ensure that the workplace, work spaces, procedures as well as machinery, equipment and tools used by the workers meet prescribed ergonomic standards (s.125(1)(t) and s.125(1)(u));
  • ensure that members of policy and workplace committees and health and safety representatives receive the health and safety training set out in (s.125(1)(z.01));
  • respond as soon as possible to reports made by the workers (s.125(1)(z.02));
  • ensure the availability in the workplace of premises, equipment and personnel necessary for the operation of the policy and workplace committees (s.125(1)(z.07));
  • cooperate with the policy and workplace committees in the execution of their duties (s.125(1)(z.08));
  • to develop health and safety policies and programs in consultation with the committee (s.125(1)(z.09));
  • respond in writing to recommendations made by committees within thirty days after receiving them, indicating what action, if any, will be taken and when it will be taken (s.125(1)(z.10));
  • provide to the committee a copy of any report on hazards in the workplace, including an assessment of those hazards (s.125(1)(z.11));
  • ensure the committee inspects all or part of the workplace each month so that every part is inspected at least once each year (s.125(1)(z.12));
  • investigate and assess worker exposure to hazardous substances in the manner prescribed, with the assistance of the committee (s.125.1(f)).

Employee's duty to report problems

Under section 126(1)(j), every worker must report to the employer any situation that he/she believes to be a contravention of Part II of the Code by the employer, another worker or any other person. The employer is required to respond (see s.125(1)(z.02)) and a health and safety officer should intervene if a worker complains that the employer is not responding.


September 13, 2013