Health & Safety
UFCW Canada and its Local Unions strongly believe that every single worker deserves to come home safe and healthy at the end of their workday.
Accordingly, our union provides members and allies, as well as health and safety advocates, with the tools and resources needed to proactively identify, assess, control, and – where possible - eliminate hazardous working conditions.
Across the country, UFCW Canada members have the power to speak up about health and safety issues without fear of reprisal. Workers who know their health and safety rights possess the knowledge needed to positively shape their workplace and protect the health and safety of themselves and their co-workers.
Feel free to explore this webpage by visiting the Health and Safety Resources section – which features a range of tools and resources for health and safety advocates – or browsing the Health and Safety Online Courses available to all UFCW members, family members, and community partners free of charge.
You can also learn how to form a Joint Health and Safety Committee in your workplace, and read more about UFCW Canada’s Workplace Rights Committee.
In addition, this section features the latest Health and Safety News for UFCW Canada activists and allies. You will also find answers to common questions that UFCW members and allies may have about health and safety issues, and our union’s work in this area.
What are my health and safety rights as an employee?
- The Right to Know;
- The Right to Participate; and
- The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work.
What is The Right to Know?
The Right to Know refers to the right of all workers to access information about hazards in their workplace, and the right to be informed about actual and potential dangers at work.
All employees across Canada have the right to know which hazardous products are present on the job (if any) and how these products might affect them. Learning about chemical safety through the Workplace Hazardous Information System (WHMIS) is a fundamental aspect of the “right to know.”
WHMIS training must be developed and carried out in consultation with a workplace joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.
If you answer “no” to any one of the following questions, you need WHMIS training or a refresher course. Speak with your health and safety or union representative for more information about this.
- Do you know what the safety data sheet is and where to find it?
- Has your workplace WHMIS program been reviewed in the last year?
- Do you understand the WHMIS pictograms (below)?
What is The Right to Participate?
Workers across Canada have the Right to Participate in addressing health and safety issues in their workplace.
Depending on the size of your workplace, you can participate through a health and safety committee, as a worker health and safety representative, or simply by providing suggestions to your supervisor or worker representative on the committee.
The joint health and safety committee is comprised of management and at least half of the committee must be workers who meet to identify and recommend solutions to health and safety problems at work. The committee ensures that health and safety concerns are brought to the attention of management and are monitored and discussed until they are fully addressed. One of the committee’s important duties is to conduct regular inspections of the workplace to identify any health and safety concerns.
What is The Right to Refuse unsafe work?
Workers across Canada have the Right to Refuse work if they have reason to believe that the situation is unsafe to themselves or their co-workers.
If you believe that a work refusal should be initiated, you should follow these steps:
- Report to your supervisor that you are refusing to work and state why you believe the situation is unsafe.
- The employee, supervisor, and a health and safety member, or employee representative, will investigate.
- The employee returns to work if the problem is resolved with mutual agreement.
- If the situation is not resolved at this stage, the employee can continue to refuse, but they must have reasonable grounds for believing the work is unsafe.
- If the problem is not resolved, a government health and safety inspector is called.
- The inspector investigates and gives a decision in writing.
* There are restrictions on the right to refuse work for some employees – for example, police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, and health care workers.
* The law prohibits employers from penalizing workers in reprisal for obeying the law or exercising their rights.
Does UFCW Canada offer health and safety training?
Yes. UFCW Canada is a pioneer in the field of labour education and is also at the forefront of creating safer environments for workers across the country. We are proud to provide Health and Safety training courses to members and their families completely free of charge, through our online education program, webCampus. These courses provide participants with the resources needed to raise concerns in their workplace and prevent injuries and illnesses at work.
UFCW Canada webCampus Health & Safety courses
All workers deserve to leave their jobs as healthy and safe as when they started work, and there are many federal and provincial laws aimed at ensuring this happens. However, preventing injuries and illnesses at work requires everyone to play a role in keeping people safe and healthy on the job.
UFCW Canada believes the elimination of work-related illnesses and injuries should be a top priority for governments, employers, and workers alike. That is why we offer a full range of health and safety courses designed to improve the lives and workplaces of members and their families. Some of our most popular courses include Health & Safety Committees, Globally Harmonized Systems (WHMIS), and Heat and Cold Stress, among others.
We believe that all Canadians have a fundamental right to a healthy and safe work environment, and through education and training, we are committed to helping workers achieve this goal.
To view a full list of UFCW Canada’s health and safety courses – which offer training on everything from Biological Hazards to Mental Health Issues to Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation and much more – visit our webCampus Health & Safety courses webpage.
UFCW Canada Local Union Health & Safety Training
Many UFCW Canada Local Unions also offer health and safety training to members who are interested in developing their knowledge and skills in this area, and for activists who want to help make their workplace a better and safer place to work.
To learn more about your health and safety rights at work, as well as potential training opportunities in your area, speak with your workplace health and safety representative or local union representative. To find your Local Union, visit UFCW Canada’s Find Your Local Union webpage.