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Take note: An employee can legally refuse to work if the workplace is dangerous

by , 30 July 2015
Under Section 14 of the OHSA, there's a duty on employees to follow lawful instruction given by their employers. You as the employer can't instruct an employee to work in unsafe conditions. If you do, he or she is entitled to refuse the task!

As the employer, it's vital you know that your employees can refuse to work if their workplace is dangerous. Read on to learn about what the MHSA says about this matter. Plus, the procedure an employee needs to follow to refuse to work and how to rectify the situation.

What the MHSA says about leaving a dangerous workplace
The Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) says in Section 23 that an employee can leave a dangerous workplace without any fear or negative consequences of victimisation.
The MHSA states as follows:
23 (1) The employee has the right to leave any working place whenever-
(a) circumstances arise at that working place which, with reasonable justification, appear to that employee to pose a serious danger to the health or safety of that employee; or
(b) the health and safety representative responsible for that working place directs that employee to leave that working place.
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What happens when an employee refuses to work
You're probably wondering if an employee can just leave the workplace. Your answer: They can't.
If an employee refuses to work, he or she must inform you (the employer). If you aren't around, they can tell their supervisor. The employee must express that they refuse because his or her working conditions are unsafe. He or she must also state why they believe the situation is unsafe.
If you as the employer don't immediately correct the situation, then the employee, supervisor, and health and safety officer must investigate the matter. They must assess the risk and control it appropriately. Until such time as this happens, the employee can refuse to work.

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