Worker has right to cease duty if health or safety is threatened – new bill
A critical provision in the long-awaited, far-reaching legislation addressing occupational safety and health at the workplace gives a worker the right to refuse to carry out duties where safety or health is threatened at the workplace.
"A worker may cease, or refuse to carry out work, if the worker has a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the worker to a serious risk to the worker's health or safety, emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard," states Section 84 of the proposed law.
However, Section 87 of the proposed statute indicates that the worker who has ceased working because of safety concerns at the workplace could be reassigned to other duties elsewhere.
"If a worker ceases work (under sections 84 to 89), the person conducting the business or undertaking may direct the worker to carry out suitable alternative work at the same or another workplace, if that work is safe and appropriate for the worker to carry out until the worker can resume normal duties," Section 87 outlines.
The bill also makes provision for a system of collaboration between workers and employer to achieve occupational safety and health at the workplace.
Further, it contains provisions for the designation of qualified persons as occupational safety and health officers with the power to conduct inspections at workplaces and remove articles or substances that may pose a threat to the safety or health of workers. These officers will have the power to order that a workplace be vacated where there is a threat to safety or health.
Under the proposed law, committees of workers will be established to identify situations in the workplace that are potential health hazards.