Refusing unsafe work

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You have the right to refuse unsafe work.

Unsafe work means an “undue hazard” that threatens you or someone else with immediate harm.

To refuse unsafe work, you must

  • report to work and be present,
  • review the hazard assessment and controls already in place,
  • be told how to fix or remove the undue hazard, and
  • be ready to do other work while the school division inspects the undue hazard.

The school division can replace you with another worker after inspecting the hazard. The school division must tell the worker about your work refusal and why you refused unsafe work.

Once the school division has fixed or removed the hazard, you must return to your assigned work.

What happens if the school division decides the work is not unsafe? The school division will then prepare a report on its findings and instruct you to return to the work. If you feel that the undue hazard remains, you may report the refusal to OHS.


Work refusal rights and obligations


  • Understand all workplace hazards
  • Understand what to report and to whom
  • Help with creating hazard assessments
  • Alert the supervisor to health and safety concerns without delay
  • Understand a school division’s response to reported health and safety concerns
  • Tell the principal or school division about the work refusal without delay
  • Do other work as directed by the school division
  • Cooperate with the school division’s investigation
  • Cooperate with all health and safety committees or personnel as needed
  • Notify OHS if you disagree with the school division’s finding of no undue hazards
  • Understand that workers have protection from disciplinary action under the OHS Act

School divisions

  • Make sure teachers understand all workplace hazards
  • Make sure teachers understand what to report and to whom
  • Support teachers in exercising their right to refuse dangerous work
  • Investigate the work refusal
  • Continue paying teachers who refuse dangerous work while investigating the hazard
  • Tell the joint health and safety committee or representative about the work refusal
  • Inspect the undue hazard, and fix or remove the hazard without delay
  • Follow all rules for replacing a teacher who reports dangerous work
  • Cooperate with all health and safety committees or personnel
  • Write a report about the refusal to work, the inspection and any action taken
  • Give the report to the joint health and safety committee or personnel
  • Give the report to the teacher who refused the dangerous work
  • Protect all teachers acting under the OHS law from disciplinary action