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Ontario's Union for fairness, equality and respect at work.
  • Get Ready for Labour Day 2022

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Here's our top five apps that assist with workplace health and safety.

These apps are a resource, not a replacement for certified training. If you have any questions about workplace safety, please contact a member of your Health and Safety Committee, or your Union Representative.

A Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is comprised of workers at your place of employment who represent the members and the employer. The JHSC is responsible for monitoring and improving health and safety conditions where you work. If you have any questions about the JHSC in your workplace, speak to your Union Representative or contact Local 1006A Health and Safety Representative Rick Young.

Why are Joint Health and Safety Committees important?

Over 200 workers are killed in Ontario every year and it is estimated that 6,000 more die of work-related disease. 

Most employers adhere to a philosophy which puts the onus of safety on workers even though they had little, if any input into the selection of equipment, work process equipment or methods of safeguarding. Your JHSC representatives act as your voice by using their training to counter this approach and developing strategies for the reduction and eliminations of hazards in your workplace.

What do Joint Health and Safety Committees do?

Committees have the power to identify and evaluate potential hazards through activities such as workplace inspections and accident investigations, focusing their attention on employee’s complaints and making recommendations to your employer for the improvement of the health and safety of the workers. OHSA Sec.9 [18]

Does my workplace have to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) mandates that all workplaces with greater than twenty employees must have a JHSC consisting of at least two members. One worker representative (chosen by the workers or the Union) and one employer representative. Both the worker rep and employer rep must receive training and be certified by a Ministry of Labour approved trainer. If your workplace consists of greater than fifty workers the committee must consist of at least four people with at least one certified worker rep and one certified employer rep. OHSA Sec.9 [2(a)], 9[6(a)(b)]

Is my employer the head of the committee?

No, the committee is co-chaired by a worker rep selected by the workers and an employer rep. Workers have decision making powers and play a role in deciding when inspections and quarterly meetings are held. OHSA Sec.9 [11], 9[33]

How often should my JHSC be doing inspections?

According to the OHSA, inspections of the physical conditions of your workplace should be done on at least once a month by a member representing workers, If possible by a certified member. Your employer must provide your member representative with any information and assistance as may be required for the purpose of carrying out the inspection. OHSA Sec.9 [23], 9[24], 9[26], 9[29]

Are the worker members paid for their time?

A committee member is entitled to be paid for any time they are attending meetings, time preparing for committee meetings, doing inspections and doing investigations. OHSA Sec.9 [34(a)(b)(c)]. 

What happens after an inspection?

After an inspection, a report is filled out and any concerns not addressed immediately are brought to the employer’s attention, in the form of written recommendations, at the JHSC meeting. The employer then has 21 days to respond. The response must contain a timetable for the implementation of the recommendation if the employer agrees with the recommendation or they must give reasons why they disagree with the recommendations. OHSA Sec.9 [20], 9[21]

How and when should I contact the JHSC?

It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry. If you have any concerns about a product you are using, feel uncertain about training you’ve received or are worried about the condition of a machine or tools that you are using contact a member of the JHSC as soon as possible. You are protected under the Occupational Health and Safety Act which guarantees you the right to know about hazards in your workplace, the right to participate in matters that could affect your health or safety at work and the right to refuse unsafe work. If you need to know who your JHSC members are, their names should be posted on your workplace health and safety or Union bulletin board. You can ask your supervisor or you can speak to your Union Representative who will be happy to assist you.

As a worker in Ontario you have the right to refuse work that you believe is unsafe to yourself or another worker. If you believe that you are endangered by workplace violence, you may also refuse work.

Under the act, a specific prodceedure must be in followed in any work refusal. It is vital for you and your co-workers, along with employers, supervisors, members of joint health and safety committees (JHSCs) and health and safety representatives, to understand the procedure for a lawful work refusal.

Below is a flowchart from the Workers Health & Safety Centre that outlines the key steps to refuse unsafe work in Ontario. 

Here are some of the many questions that get asked about refusing unsafe work:

When can I refuse to work?

You can refuse to work if you have reason to believe that:

  • any machine, equipment or tool that you are using or are told to use is likely to endanger yourself or another worker;

  • the physical condition of the workplace or workstation is likely to endanger yourself;

  • workplace violence is likely to endanger yourself; or

  • any machine, equipment or tool that you are using, or the physical condition of the workplace, contravenes the Act or regulations and is likely to endanger yourself or another worker.

Your right to refuse unsafe work is protected in the Act (even if you had previously performed the work and did not refuse).

What are the steps to refusing unsafe work?

You must immediately tell the supervisor or employer that the work is being refused and explain the circumstances for the refusal.

The supervisor or employer must investigate the situation immediately, in the presence of you and one of the following:

  • a joint health and safety committee member who represents workers. If possible, this should be a certified member, or

  • another worker, who, because of knowledge, experience and training, has been chosen by the union to represent them.

  • You must remain in a safe place that is as near as reasonably possible to your workstation, and remain available to the employer or supervisor for the purposes of the investigation, until the investigation is completed.

  • Although not stated as such in the Act, this interval is informally known as the “first stage” of a work refusal. If the situation is resolved at this point, you will return to work.

What if I am not satisfied with the result of the first stage investigation?

You can continue to refuse the work if you have reasonable grounds for believing that the circumstances that caused you to initially refuse work continue. At this point, the “second stage” of a work refusal begins.

Can another worker be asked to do the work that was refused?

Yes, but only after the Ministry of Labour has been called.  While waiting for the inspector to investigate and give a decision on the refusal, the employer or supervisor can ask another worker to do the work that was refused. The second worker must be told that the work was refused and why. This must be done in the presence of a committee member who represents workers, or a health and safety representative, or a worker representative chosen because of knowledge, experience and training.

The second worker has the same right to refuse the work as the first worker.

Can an employer discipline me?

No. The employer is expressly prohibited from penalizing, dismissing, disciplining, suspending or threatening to do any of these things to you when you have obeyed or sought enforcement of the OHSA. 

Local 1006A members should immediately contact their Staff Representative if they are disciplined or threatened in any way for exercising their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The union will act immediately on complaints.

Related Questions

Who is responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?

Everyone has a role to play in the safety of a workplace, including you, your co-workers, your supervisor and especially your employer. This is the law.

Joint Health and Safety Committees

Ontario’s law requires every workplace to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee with Worker and Management Representatives.

  • The worker representative must be selected by the workers or the union.

  • The management representative must be selected by the employer.

Employer’s Obligations

(Occupational Health & Safety Act [Section 25])

Here are some of the many obligations of an employer:

  • Take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers;

  • Ensure that equipment, materials and protective equipment are maintained in good condition;

  • Provide information, instruction and supervision to protect worker health and safety; and

  • Co-operate with the Joint Health and Safety Committee.

Supervisors’ Obligations

(Occupational Health & Safety Act [Section 27])

Here are some of the many obligations of a supervisor:

  • Make sure that workers work in compliance with the act and its regulations;

  • Make sure that workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing the employer requires;

  • Tell workers about any workplace health and safety hazards that the supervisor is aware of;

  • Give workers written instructions on measures and procedures to be followed for their own protection, if prescribed by regulation; and

  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers.

Under the act, the employer must ensure the supervisor is competent  [a) qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance, b) familiar with this Act and the regulations that apply to the work, and c) has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace].

Workers’ Obligations

(Occupational Health & Safety Act [Section 28])

Workers have a general duty to take responsibility for personal health and safety, which means they should not behave or operate equipment in a way that would endanger themselves or others.

  • Work in compliance with the Act and regulations;

  • Use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer;

  • Tell the employer or supervisor about any known missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous;

  • Report any known workplace hazard or violation of the Act to the employer or supervisor;

  • Not remove or make ineffective any protective device required by the employer or by the regulations

How do I identify workplace hazards?

Empower yourself by knowing the different WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) symbols and hazards.

Our Strength Comes from Our Union Members

UFCW Canada Local 1006A is one of Ontario’s largest private sector local unions.

We are the union for workers in diverse sectors from Grocery Stores, Food Processing, Retail, Restaurant, Hotels, Laundry, Warehousing/Distribution, Cannabis, Eye Care and much more.

Our members work for a variety of employers such as Loblaws, Superstore (RCSS), No Frills, Swiss Chalet, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Garda Security, Canadian Linen, LensCrafters, Aramark, HMS Host and many more. For a complete list of click here.

You will find our union members working in communities across Ontario from the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa to Windsor, Thunder Bay to London, Kingston to St. Catharines to Kitchener and the many towns and cities in between.

Learn More About Local 1006A

Our Members Know the Union Advantage

  • Mark Zanin pictured with his Union Representative Kevin Bacon

    ""I was working 40 hours and even though I was hired full-time, I was getting paid at a part-time rate. My Union Rep raised the issue with my new owner and helped make sure I got paid correctly for the hours I had worked."  –  Mark Zanin, No Frills.

    Read More
  • Angel Vernon pictured with her Union Representative Joe Blythe

    "I have never been part of a union before and never really understood the big deal until I became a member of UFCW Canada Local 1006A. I feel very secure knowing that I have rights and that I have someone to back me up and help me argue my point when I need it."  –  Angel Vernon, Tok Transit Viva.

    Read More
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Toll Free 1-800-637-5936

ufcw@ufcw1006a.ca

Head Office

70 Creditview Road
70 Creditview Road
Woodbridge, ON L4L 9N4
Woodbridge, ON L4L 9N4
Tel (905) 850-0096
Tel (905) 850-0096
Fax (905) 850-0839
Fax (905) 850-0839
Toll Free 1-800-637-5936
Toll Free 1-800-637-5936