IRS – Roles and Responsibilities

All workplace parties share responsibility for occupational health and safety in the workplace. Understanding the roles and responsibilities will help you do your part to help keep everyone safe.

Employees responsibilities include the following:

  • Work in compliance with OH&S acts and regulations.
  • Use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed by the employer.
  • Report workplace hazards and dangers to the supervisor or employer.
  • Work in a safe manner as required by the employer and use the prescribed safety equipment.
  • Tell the supervisor or employer about any missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous.

Employees have the following three basic rights:

  • Right to refuse unsafe work.
  • Right to participate in the workplace health and safety activities through the Health and Safety Committee (HSC) or as a worker health and safety representative.
  • Right to know, or the right to be informed about, actual and potential dangers in the workplace.

The manager or supervisor must:

  • Make sure workers work in compliance with OH&S acts and regulations.
  • Make sure that workers use prescribed protective equipment and/or devices.
  • Advise workers of potential and actual hazards.
  • Provide workers with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for protection of the worker.
  • Take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers.

Managers and supervisors act on behalf of the employer, and hence have the responsibility to meet the duties of the employer as specified in the Act for the work they (the managers and supervisors) direct.

An employer must:

  • Establish and maintain a health and safety committee, or cause workers to select at least one health and safety representative.
  • Take every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe.
  • Train employees about any potential hazards and in how to safely use, handle, store and dispose of hazardous substances and how to handle emergencies.
  • Make sure workers know how to use and handle the equipment safely and properly.
  • Make sure workers use any necessary personal protective equipment.
  • Immediately report all critical injuries to the government department responsible for OH&S.
  • Appoint a competent supervisor who sets the standards for performance, and who ensures safe working conditions are always observed.

The JHSC has various powers, including:

  • identifying actual and potential hazards in the workplace
  • obtaining information from the employer relating to health and safety in the workplace
  • inspecting the workplace on a regular basis
  • being consulted about and having a member representing workers be present at the beginning of any health and safety-related testing in the workplace
  • recommending health and safety improvements in the workplace.

To carry out its functions, the committee is required to hold meetings at least once every three months [subsection 9(33)]. There may be a need to meet more often if there are specific workplace health and safety issues to address or if the work involves hazardous substances or procedures. Joint health and safety committees may want to consider developing a terms of reference to help guide them towards their goals.

For a comprehensive list noting prescribed Duties of All Workplace Parties, please review the OHSA