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What health and safety rules apply to my job?

You have the right to be safe at work. Almost every worker, employer, and workplace in Ontario has to follow the safety rules in the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The OHSA applies to employees, employers, and independent contractors.

There are some jobs where the OHSA does not apply or it applies along with other rules. These types of workplaces are described below.

Working at home

The OHSA does not apply to work that you do in your home or your employer's home.

But if your employer pays you to work in someone else's home, then the safety rules of the OHSA probably apply to you.

For example, if you work for a cleaning company and you clean other people’s homes, then the OHSA applies to your job. But, if someone hires you personally to clean their home, then the OHSA does not apply.

Canada Labour Code

Some industries are covered by federal laws. These are laws made by the Government of Canada and they apply throughout the country.

These industries follow the health and safety rules which come from the Canada Labour Code instead of the OHSA.

Examples of workplaces covered by the Canada Labour Code include:

  • post offices
  • airlines and airports
  • banks
  • telecommunication companies, including radio or television
  • federal government offices
  • grain elevators and some feed mills
  • ferries, tunnels, bridges, and canals
  • shipping or transportation companies that go to more than one province

Special industries

Some industries that have special dangers also have their own rules. These workplaces have extra safety rules that employees and employers have to follow. They also have to follow the OHSA or the Canada Labour Code.

These types of industries include:

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Find out which rules apply to you

The rules that apply to safety at work include the:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Canada Labour Code
  • laws dealing with industries that have special dangers

These rules apply to almost all employers, employees, and independent contractors.

If you aren't sure which rules apply to you, you can call the Ministry of Labour's health and safety information line at 1-877-202-0008.

If you want to know about the Canada Labour Code, you can call the Labour Program (Ontario Region) at 1-800-641-4049.

Learn more about the Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) applies to almost every worker and employer in Ontario.

It has rules about a wide range of health and safety topics, including:

If you have specific questions about the OHSA, you can contact the Ministry of Labour.

Learn more about the Canada Labour Code

If your job is covered by the Canada Labour Code, you and your employer must follow its health and safety rules.

It has rules about a wide range of health and safety topics, including:

  • who is covered by the Canada Labour Code
  • your employer's duties to make sure you have a safe workplace
  • your duties to keep the workplace safe
  • Health and Safety Committees
  • how to make a complaint to your employer about a safety problem
  • how to make a complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board
  • how the law protects you if you make a complaint to your employer or the Canada Industrial Relations Board

You can learn more about the workplace safety rules in the Canada Labour Code from the Labour Program. You can also call them at 1-800-641-4049 to ask a specific question.

You may need

Talk to your union or trade association, if you have one

If you work in an industry that has special dangers, like manufacturing, mining, or farming, there may be special rules that apply to your job.

These industries often have unions or trade associations.

If you belong to a union or trade association, they should know what safety rules your employer has to follow. They can help you assess the dangers in your workplace.

They may also be able to give you advice or help you make a complaint about a safety problem.

Talk to 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. They can tell you what rules apply to your job.

Reviewed: 
October, 2015

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