What are an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Rights?

In this blog we will discuss what an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Rights are.

We will also discuss the responsibilities of both an employee and employer in terms of Occupational Health and Safety, what an employee can do if they have concerns related to Occupational Health and Safety.

What are an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Rights?

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The rights of an employee related to their Occupational health and Safety can differ according to Government laws and policy.

For most states and countries, the laws generally cover the following Occupational Health and Safety Rights of employees:

  • The Right to have any risks to your health and safety properly controlled by the employer.
  • The Right to be provided with any personal protective and safety equipment free of charge by the employer.
  • The Right to stop work and leave your work area, without being disciplined if you have reasonable concerns about your safety
  • The Right to tell your employer about any health and safety concerns you have
  • The Right to contact the Health and Safety Executives or your local authority, if your employer won’t listen to your concerns
  • The Right to not to be disciplined if you contact the Health and Safety Executives or your local authority
  • The Right to have rest breaks during the working day
  • The Right to have time off from work during the working week
  • The Right to have annual paid holiday
  • The Right to take leave from work in the case of injury or illness related to the work.

What are an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Responsibilities?

While the law does protect the employee in terms of their Occupational Health and Safety, the employees do have a responsibility to ensure that they are protected and safe. 

Some of the responsibilities of an employee in terms of Occupational Health and Safety include:

  • Responsibility to take care of your own health and safety
  • Responsibility to avoid wearing jewellery or loose clothing if operating machinery
  • Responsibility make sure if you have long hair, or wear a headscarf, it’s tucked out of the way as it could get caught in machinery
  • Responsibility to take care not to put other people – fellow employees and members of the public – at risk by what you do or don’t do in the course of your work
  • Responsibility to cooperate with your employer
  • Responsibility to make sure you get proper training and you understand and follow the company’s health and safety policies
  • Responsibility not to interfere with or misuse anything that’s been provided for your health, safety or welfare
  • Responsibility to report any injuries, strains or illnesses you suffer as a result of doing your job
  • Responsibility to tell your employer if something happens that might affect your ability to work, like becoming pregnant or suffering an injury 
  • if you drive or operate machinery, you have a responsibility to tell your employer if you take medication that makes you drowsy 

Who Is Responsible For Occupational Health of employees?


Under the Health and Safety at Work Act as well as the labour laws of most countries, the employers are responsible for the occupational health and safety of the employees or the workers. 

The employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees. 

Their responsibility to uphold the occupational health and safety of the employees and their duties as employers are usually expressed as goals or targets related to maintaining the health and safety of the employees such as providing all employees protective gear or providing sound training.

These goals and targets are to be met through reasonably practicable steps or by exercising ‘adequate control’ or taking ‘appropriate’ steps to ensure that these codes of conduct are maintained by all managers and employees.

This means that the responsibility to make judgments about the level of risk and safety is put entirely on the person in charge, that is the managers or the employers.

It is advised that occupational health regulations should be maintained by Individual risk assessments that should be collaboratively developed with the relevant employees acting as consultants in the process of creating these regulations.

For example, if a worker returning to work after sick leave may require adjustments to their role and working environment action should not be taken without consulting with that member of staff about their specific needs.

While the employers or managers or management of the company are responsible for ensuring that the health, safety and welfare at work of employees are safeguarded, the workers are also accountable in the process. 

The workers are also accountable for maintaining the health and safety regulations that have been set up by the employers or the company management so that regulations are upheld. 

What are the  Occupational Health and Safety responsibilities of an employer?

The Occupational Health and Safety responsibilities of an employer can differ according to the counties or state’s labour laws. 

However in general some of the Occupational Health and Safety responsibilities of an employer include:

  • The employer must provide a safe workplace and must assess risk at work. 
  • The employer should have a safety policy and a health and safety officer in order to meet the legal requirements for Occupational Health and Safety regulation within the workplace. 
  • Employers must take steps to ensure that they know about the hazards that the employees are exposed to and do what is necessary to protect the employees form these hazards. 
  • It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business
  • Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of their employees are protected. 
  • The employer should take steps to effectively control any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.
  • Employers have the responsibility to assess risks in the workplace to address all risks that might cause harm in the workplace.
  • Employers must give the employees information about the risks in the workplace.
  • The employers must also inform the employee related to how they are protected, also instruct and train the employee on how to deal with the risks.
  • Employers must consult employees for health and safety issues directly or through a safety representative.For example, if a worker returning to work after sick leave may require adjustments to their role and working environment action should not be taken without consulting with that member of staff about their specific needs.

What should an employee do if they have concerns about Occupational Health and Safety?

If an employee has concerns related to their health and safety related to their occupation or work, they can take the following steps:

Inform their employer or immediate supervisor

If you have health and safety concerns at work, the first thing that you can do is to discuss it with you immediate supervisor or your employer. 

In the case that you have a safety office within the company or a safety representative, they can be your first point of contact or a trade union in officer. 

Discuss your concerns with them to understand your opinions as an employee and employer to make necessary steps to protect your from these concerns or risk to health and safety. 

It is the duty of the employer to avoid exposing their employees to risks at work, some of the steps they might take is to give you protective gear, change the role if it is related to some medication you are taking or a health condition that puts you at risk etc. 

Health and safety inspectors

If you have mentioned the concerns to your managers and your employer and you have not gotten back a response, you can opt to speak to a representative from the workers union within your field. 

You can also reach out to local authorities such as health and safety inspectors. Health and safety inspectors have powers to enforce the law to protect your health.

If you take this step, you have the right to not be disciplined by your employers nor should they put you at any disadvantage in your role as an employee. 

Conclusion

In this blog we will discuss what an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Rights are.

We will also discuss the responsibilities of both an employee and employer in terms of Occupational Health and Safety, what an employee can do if they have concerns related to Occupational Health and Safety.

FAQ related to What are an employee’s Occupational Health and Safety Rights?

What are the employee rights and responsibilities?

The rights of an employee related to their Occupational health and Safety can differ according to Government laws and policy.

While the law does protect the employee in terms of their Occupational Health and Safety, the employees do have a responsibility to ensure that they are protected and safe. 

What are the main objectives of occupational health and safety?

The main objective and intent behind Occupational Safety and Health is to prevent diseases, injuries, and deaths that are due to working conditions.

What are the OHS responsibilities of employers?

Some of the OHS responsibilities of the employer includes:

  • The employer must provide a safe workplace and must assess risk at work. 

The employer should have a safety policy and a health and safety officer in order to meet the legal requirements for Occupational Health and Safety regulation within the workplace. 

  • Employers must take steps to ensure that they know about the hazards that the employees are exposed to and do what is necessary to protect the employees form these hazards. 
  • It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business

What are 3 basic rights every worker in Ontario has in the workplace?

The 3 basic rights every worker in Ontario has in the workplace include:

  • The right to know about health and safety matters. 
  • The right to participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety. 
  • The right to refuse work that could affect their health and safety and that of others.

What are 5 employee responsibilities in the workplace?

Some of the responsibilities of an employee in terms of Occupational Health and Safety include:

  • Responsibility to take care of your own health and safety
  • Responsibility to avoid wearing jewellery or loose clothing if operating machinery
  • Responsibility make sure if you have long hair, or wear a headscarf, it’s tucked out of the way as it could get caught in machinery
  • Responsibility to take care not to put other people – fellow employees and members of the public – at risk by what you do or don’t do in the course of your work
  • Responsibility to make sure you get proper training and you understand and follow the company’s health and safety policies

References

Employees’ health and safety responsibilities. niDirect.Gov.UK. Retrieved on 25th March 2-022. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/employees-health-and-safety-responsibilities

What Are The Occupational Health Regulations In The UK? CHAS. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.chas.co.uk/blog/occupational-health-regulations-uk/

Employer’s responsibilities. HSE. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.hse.gov.uk/workers/employers.htm

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