Health & Safety

Information Bulletins · The Right to Refuse – It's the Law, Use It!



The Right to Refuse – It's the Law, Use It!

How the right to refuse works

Under Section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Ontario, you have the right to refuse unsafe, unhealthy work. If you have reason to believe the work is likely to endanger you or someone else, this is what you do.


Reports the problem to a supervisor, remains in a safe place. Employees cannot under the law be disciplined for refusing unsafe work under Section 43.
Teachers Note: The Education Act requires that you must ensure the safety of students in your care first.


Investigates in the presence of employee and the employee's representative, (Certified Representative, Safety Representative Committeeperson, Steward, etc.).


If the worker still feels there are "reasonable grounds" to refuse, then they, their representative or the employer can call a government inspector.


An inspector shall investigate the refusal to work in consultation with the employer or a person representing the employer, the worker, and if there is such, the person mentioned in clause (4)(a), (b) or (c).


Pending the inspector's decision, the employee will remain in a safe place, unless assigned to reasonable alternative work. No other worker can be assigned pending inspector's decision unless advised of the refusal and reason for it in the presence of a Certified Representative or Safety Representative Committeeperson, Steward, etc.


Section 61 allows 30 days to appeal the inspector's decision to the Board – Contact the Health and Safety / Workplace Safety and Insurance Act Committee through OSSTF/FEESO Provincial Office, 49 Mobile Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M4A 1H5 at 416-751-8300 or 1-800-267-7867.

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