Under law, you have the right to refuse work that you believe is unsafe for you to do or that you believe would be detrimental to the health and safety of others. It is written into the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 3.12 as part of the BC Workers Compensation Act.

And you have the right to refuse the use of unsafe equipment, without losing your job. Here is the correct procedure to follow;

  1. Report and Remain on Site: Report the unsafe work issue to the company supervisor and the workers health and safety rep if there is one available. Make sure you stay on the job for the remainder of the shift, while you try to report the refusal. Do not walk off the job! If it’s a situation the supervisor can repair after his/her investigation or says the work is safe, you can still disagree with the supervisor if you believe the situation remains unsafe. Then a joint investigation must take place.
  2. Joint Investigation: The second time a supervisor will investigate the work with a worker representative on the joint health and safety committee or a worker from the refusing workers union. If there’s no committee or union rep around, then you can choose any worker you want to join the supervisor on the investigation.
  3. WCB Inspectors Investigation: If you still believe it’s unsafe, then you have the right to continue to refuse and call the Workers Compensation Board. That toll free number is 1-866-621-SAFE (7233) between 8:30-4:30 pm Monday to Friday. The WCB inspector will inspect the site and decide whether a situation needs to be remedied or not, before you return to work.

Note: If you refuse work that you believe is unsafe you will not lose any pay. But you can be assigned to other work by your employer. You cannot be disciplined or fired either. Your protection is founded in Section 150 of the Workers Compensation Act and Regulation 3.13 of the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation.

RIGHT TO KNOW In BC, as in all provinces, you have the RIGHT TO KNOW about workplace hazards, in all their forms.  The employer must proactively tell you about physical hazards, dangerous chemicals, protective clothing and procedures and all other known health and safety hazards, risks and precautions. You have the right to be informed about any know hazards.

RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE You have the RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE in health and safety issues in your workplace. This includes the possibility of being involved in a joint management-worker Occupational Health and Safety Committee or becoming a health and safety representative.

Details for reporting a work related injury:

If you have a pain or ache at work caused by work you are required to report it to your employer even if it is not disabling or you don’t need to see a Doctor. If you don’t report it and it progresses to get worse your chances of proving it happened at work is nearly impossible.

The employer also has the right to know if you have been injured, they may want to investigate it and they won’t be able to if they aren’t aware. Failure to report an injury only jeopardizes the worker’s health and may affect any claims with Worksafe (WCB).

How is a workplace accident determined?

Workplace accidents are determined under Section 5.1 of the Act which states the injury must “arise out of and in the course of employment” before compensation is paid. If you don’t report the injury then it becomes increasingly hard to prove that it happened at work in the course of your employment. By reporting your injury immediately you are creating evidence that you were injured and if that injury worsens you have already reported it.

What if the injury comes on gradually?

When this occurs it should be reported when it feels like its coming on or just feels different. Many soft tissue and repetitive type injuries come on over time including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. When it feels different and is reported you are creating evidence to help you if it becomes a more serious injury later. Are you required to report all injuries? Yes, Section 53(1) of the Act says a worker has an obligation to report to his or her employer the details concerning any injury or disease as soon as practicable. Don’t rely on an excuse like it was only a kink in my neck and I thought it would resolve, or that pride prevented you from reporting the incident. These will ultimately be rejected by Worksafe BC. Your Worksafe BC claim for compensation is denied.

Most often an injury claim is denied if the reporting of the injury has been delayed, it leaves it open to when did the injury occur and that is a matter of evidence. It becomes an up hill battle to overturn a claim rejection for failure to report in a timely manner. In fact rarely are they overturned. By not reporting an injury a worker is only jeopardizing themselves and there right to compensation. Reporting to the supervisor in some cases has been a problem as they could not remember the worker reporting it. Get it recorded so you have the evidence for the future if needed. Either through a first aid report or a report of injury form. If you fail to report you or only helping to artificially reduce your employer’s accident record, at your expense. Remember it’s your right to a safe workplace and you are required to report all injuries.

Know your workplace rights

  1. The right to know
  2. The right to participate
  3. The right to refuse unsafe work
  4. The right to no discrimination

Always report injuries no matter how small they may seem



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