The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work
Now is a great time for all of us to refresh ourselves on the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work.
As BC has now added greater clarity to the steps required when an employee invokes their right, this is a great reminder for all of us to be aware of our obligations as employers.
On August 22, BC introduced new language to the OHS Regulations. Under section 188.8.131.52 the new rules state that an employer must not require or permit another worker to do the refused work unless the matter has been resolved or the employer informs the worker as follows:
1) informs them of the refusal
2) the unsafe work reported
3) the reasons why the work would not create an undue hazard to the health and safety of other works or persons
4) the right of the other worker under section 3.12 to refuse unsafe work.
Most jurisdictions have similar wording in place, so ensure that if you are approaching an alternate worker to do the work that was refused, that you are informing them of all the information that is required.
Additionally, employers are also obligated to address and resolve the concerns that were brought forward in the refusal. The resolution will vary depending on the work and the reasons for refusal, so ensure that you are not applying a boiler plate process.
Each refusal should be addressed based on its own merits and the concerns of the individual. Often, clear communication and transparent information sharing can resolve these types of concerns. People want to know that they are safe at work and that the employer has taken precautions, often the issue isn't an unwillingness, it is a lack of information.
Be sure that you are also working with the SME's ( Subject Matter Experts) and JHSC in your dealership throughout the resolution process. There are required steps to take to come to a closure on any refusal of dangerous work, and this includes having the correct people participating.
As well, if you have not been able to address the situation to the satisfaction of parties involved, and if the employee is refusing to do the work assigned, an escalation for resolution to Occupational Health and Safety may be required.
Remember, a Right to Refuse DANGEROUS work is about the safety of the tasks, not the desires of either the employer or the employee.
If your dealership has had a Right to Refuse Dangerous Work, and you need assistance in rectifying the situation, we can help. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we assist dealerships in avoiding, and handling safety issues.