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Duties and Rights of Workers

This is general information about the duties of workers in the workplace. Please refer to the legislation for complete details.

A worker is:

  • An individual, including a supervisor, who is engaged in the service of an employer; or
  • a member of a prescribed category of individuals.

Under The Saskatchewan Employment Act, workers are responsible for:

  • knowing, understanding and complying with the health and safety requirements stated in The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the Act) and The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 (the Regulations);
  • taking reasonable care to protect their own health and safety and the health and safety of other workers;
  • complying with their duty to refrain from causing or participating in:
    • the harassment of another worker; or
    • acts of violence against another worker; and
  • cooperating with any other person fulfilling their workplace responsibilities as described in the Act and the Regulations.

Refer to Part III, Division 3 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act to see the general duties of workers.

Knowing Your Rights

You have three basic rights under The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

  • The right to know the hazards at work and how to control them.
  • The right to participate in finding and controlling workplace hazards.
  • The right to refuse work that you believe is unusually dangerous.

Your three rights – and your ability to exercise them – are protected under The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

Right to Know

You have the right to know about any hazards, or potential hazards, which may be found in your place of employment. It is also your right to receive instruction, information, training and supervision necessary for you to do your job safely.

A hazard is anything that is likely to cause harm or injury in certain circumstances.

Make sure you know what the hazards are at your workplace.

Other examples of information you have a right to know include:

  • safe work practices and procedures;
  • emergency procedures (such as evacuations or first aid);
  • policies that exist in your workplace (such as violence or harassment policies);
  • how to safely use and handle chemicals and other substances found in your workplace; and
  • how to raise a safety concern.

Right to Participate

You have the right to participate in workplace health and safety.

Every Saskatchewan workplace with 10 or more workers must have an occupational health committee (OHC). At least half of the committee members must represent workers who are not management.

Members representing workers need to be elected by the workers they represent or selected by their union. Members representing the employer are designated by the employer.

The OHC must:

  • have a worker co-chair;
  • have an employer co-chair; and
  • have no more than 12 members.

The duties of committees include:

  • participating in identifying and controlling health and safety hazards through regular workplace inspections;
  • ensuring workers' health and safety concerns are addressed;
  • assisting the employer with the occupational health and safety program, policies, procedures and issues;
  • investigating accidents and dangerous occurrences at the place of employment;
  • investigating when someone refuses to perform a job or task that they believe is unusually dangerous;
  • maintaining committee records, which could include meeting minutes and investigation records, and
  • any other requirements identified in the regulations.

Under the Regulations, prescribed workplaces with five to nine workers must have an occupational health and safety representative (OHS representative).

The duties of OHS representatives include:

  • participating in identifying and controlling health and safety hazards through regular workplace inspections;
  • ensuring workers' health and safety concerns are addressed;
  • providing health and safety information to workers; and
  • any other requirements identified in the regulations.

If your supervisor is unable to help you with your safety concerns, discuss the concerns with your occupational health committee or occupational health and safety representative.

Right to Refuse

You have the right to refuse to perform any specific job or task which you have reasonable grounds to believe is unusually dangerous. The danger may be to you or to any other person at your workplace. An unusual danger could include:

  • a danger that is not normal for the job (e.g., repairing a roof in dangerous winds);
  • a danger that would normally stop work (e.g., operating a forklift with a flat tire); or
  • a situation for which you are not properly trained, equipped, or experienced to do the work assigned (e.g., cleaning windows on a tall building with no fall protection equipment or training).

Steps for Refusing Unusually Dangerous Work

If your supervisor/employer asks you to perform a specific job or task that you have grounds to believe is unusually dangerous, you have the right to refuse to do the task.

Follow these steps to resolve a work refusal:

  1. The employee informs their employer/supervisor that they are refusing work because of a health or safety concern pursuant to section 3-31 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act. The supervisor asks the employee what task or tasks they are refusing and why they believe the work is unusually dangerous. It is helpful if this is documented in writing.
  2. The employee should not leave the worksite without their employer's permission.
  3. If the worker and supervisor cannot resolve the concern to the worker's satisfaction, they contact their workplace occupational health committee (OHC).
  4. The OHC investigates the refusal to determine if there are reasonable grounds to refuse the work. The OHC's decision must be a unanimous vote for or against the refusal.
  5. If the refusal cannot be resolved within the workplace, contact the Occupational Health and Safety Division at the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety by calling 1-800-567-7233.
  6. An occupational health officer will investigate the refusal and provide a written decision on the matter.

Refer to Part III, Division 5 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act for the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work; Discriminatory Action.

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