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Understanding the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work in Manitoba

- by Christina Hryniuk

Under section 43(1) of the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act, you have the right to refuse work for anything that you reasonably believe is a danger to your safety and health or the safety and health of others.

This could be something you believe could cause serious immediate or long-term effects on your safety and health or the safety and health of others.

The process to refuse dangerous work

  • Notify your supervisor or the person in charge about your concern, and refuse the unsafe work.
  • If a concern is reasonable, the employer must address the hazard/investigate along with a worker health and safety committee member or worker health and safety representative, and take actions to remedy the dangerous situation.
  • If the situation isn’t remedied, you may continue to refuse to work. Any of the people investigating the situation may notify a workplace safety and health officer to investigate. The officer must provide a written report of the findings and orders to you, the employer, and chairpersons of the workplace.
  • If these findings do not resolve the issue, you can appeal to the Director of Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Branch within two weeks of the order.

Can a refusing worker face discipline?

It’s against the law for an employer to punish a worker for refusing work they believe to be unsafe.

Other workers not to be assigned

When a worker refuses to work or do a task, the employer shall not request or assign another worker to do the work.

If someone refuses to work or do a task under section 42, the worker is entitled to the same wages and benefits that they would’ve received if they continued to work. The employer also may re-assign the employee temporarily to alternate work.