This Labour Day, Yukon Employees’ Union turns our focus to your health and safety in the workplace.
Is your workplace safe?
Some Yukon workplaces are designated as high-risk. That means there are conditions in those workplaces that expose workers to a greater degree of risk than usual. Recently, our members in one such workplace contacted us for support.
This group serves vulnerable community members, and the work puts them at greater risk of exposure to workplace illness like COVID19. They are employed in spaces with minimum staff/client ratios determined by their employer but when their workplace is not fully staffed, the safe staff/client ratios cannot be maintained. This puts workers and clients at increased risk of transmission of illness. YEU has been working to bring the health and safety risks of under-staffing to the attention of their employer.
To help improve workplace health and safety for this group of workers, we have:
- Reported the issue (or potential issue) to their employer
- Filed Incident Reports – where there is a reporting system in place
- Clarified and qualified the issue and its potential impacts (in this case, a lack of adequate staffing and PPE puts workers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19)
- Triggered the establishment or reinstatement of more effective workplace health and safety systems
- Resolved the workers’ concerns without any reprisal
- Where we were unable to resolve the issue in the workplace, we helped the workers escalate their concerns to the Workers Safety and Compensation Board.
In July of this year, the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
So, is your workplace safe? If you don’t believe it is, please let us know.
These are the Occupational Health and Safety rights that protect all workers:
THE RIGHT TO KNOW
You have the right to know which health and safety hazards are possible in your place of work. Employers are legally obligated to tell workers of any hazards they may encounter, the likelihood of exposure, and the severity of harm if they are exposed. Employers must make sure workers know how to be safe at work when hazards are present.
THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE
Workers have the right to participate in workplace health and safety. That could mean being a member of a health and safety committee, being a workplace safety representative, or taking on other health and safety roles within the workplace.
Participation also comes with the responsibility to report workplace hazards, no matter how big or small. Supervisors, managers, senior management and employers are equally responsible for reporting hazards and ensuring worker participation is protected.
THE RIGHT TO REFUSE
Workers can refuse to perform work they believe puts themselves or others at risk. We have an article on our website to help you guide workers through this process: https://www.yeu.ca/how_to_refuse_unsafe_work
Workers can also contact the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Board if they feel their concerns about workplace safety are not being taken seriously. Their worker reference page is linked here: https://www.wcb.yk.ca/web-0005
THE RIGHT TO NO REPRISAL
Any worker who reports an issue that they think is a health and safety risk is protected from reprisal. Workplace health and safety requires workplaces to protect people who bring forward any concern. Workers who fear reprisal in the form of discipline or punishment or far less likely to bring hazards forward.
This year on Labour Day, we strive for safe and healthy workplaces for all Yukoners. We hope you spend a relaxing day enjoying the fruits of your labour.
In solidarity and safety,
Yukon Employees' Union