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What do I need to know about the dangers in my workplace?

You have the right to know about anything dangerous in your workplace. The dangers could include equipment, situations, chemicals, or people.

Your employer must give you the information, training, and supervision you need to do your job safely.

Training could be about:

  • company safety rules
  • what to do in an emergency
  • where to find the first aid kids
  • how and when to use safety equipment
  • how to use the tools that you need to do your job
  • how to keep the equipment you use safe and working properly

Before you do a task at work, you should know how to check all machinery you use to make sure it's running safely and you're protected.

If you work with dangerous materials, like chemicals or biological hazards, your employer must give you training on the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

WHIMS applies in all of Canada. It has standard rules and ways of dealing with dangerous materials.

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Understand the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

Your employer must train you on the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) if there are dangerous materials in your workplace.

WHIMS applies in all parts of Canada. It has standard rules and ways of dealing with dangerous materials.

The training that your employer does must include:

  • how to handle materials safely
  • what to do in an emergency
  • how to read WHMIS labels
  • where to find safety data sheets for dangerous materials

Your employer must make sure that all dangerous materials have WHMIS labels. These tell you what makes a product dangerous, and list the basic safety steps you should take when you handle it.

Some materials are also supposed to have what are called "safety data sheets".

A safety data sheet is a document that has information on the possible hazards of a chemical product and how to work safely with the product. Hazards could be related to:

  • toxic effects
  • fire
  • explosions
  • poisons
  • corrosion
  • environmental hazards
  • how the chemical reacts to other materials

If you didn't get WHMIS training when you started your work, or if you got training a long time ago, ask your employer or a health and safety representative or representative from your Joint Health and Safety Committee to hold a training session.

Know your health and safety representative or Joint Health and Safety Committee

If your workplace has 6 workers or more, find out who your health and safety representative is or who is on your Joint Health and Safety Committee.

Their job is to help you understand the dangers in your workplace and make sure you can do your job safely.

They can also investigate dangers and recommend things your employer should do to keep the workplace safer.

It's a good idea to know who these people are and how to contact them.

Learn how to refuse unsafe work

There are special rules you have to follow when you refuse to do a task that's not safe, when that task is part of your job.

First, you have to talk to your employer and try to find a way to solve the problem.

If you and your employer can't agree, you may need to contact the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008. The Ministry of Labour may send an investigator to your workplace.

Your employer is not allowed to punish you for complaining about a safety problem.

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Reviewed: 
October, 2015

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