Refusing unsafe work in the BC Public Service

Last updated: Januaryy 5, 2023

No employee, worker or supervisor in the BC Public Service should work, or ask anyone else to work, in an unsafe situation, nor operate tools or equipment they believe are hazardous.


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Procedure for refusing unsafe work

This information is for for employees of the B.C. government, and their managers.

  • Report the unsafe work condition to your supervisor
  • Your supervisor must immediately investigate and ensure that any unsafe condition is remedied as soon as possible

Your supervisor must let you know if they think the reported unsafe condition is safe.

If you still believe the work is unsafe and decline to carry out the work assigned, your supervisor must investigate this matter with you:

  • The investigation at this step must be done with a worker member of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) or an employee selected by the employee’s union
  • You may be given a temporary assignment to alternate work, without loss in pay, until the matter is resolved. You must accept the reassignment until you return to your original duties
  • Your supervisor must let you know about the investigation results

If the issue isn't resolved after investigation with the committee member and you still believe it's unsafe to work, you and your supervisor must immediately notify WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-SAFE (7233).

  • A WorkSafeBC representative will attend the work site and investigate the work refusal
  • The WorkSafeBC officer may issue an inspection report or an order if they find that an undue hazard does exist, or they will advise that no undue hazard is present and the employee can safely perform the work

Re-assignment of refused work

If a worker refuses unsafe work and the work is reassigned to another worker, the supervisor/employer must provide the worker that is being reassigned the work with a written notice which includes:

  • The fact that a worker has refused the work as unsafe
  • The details of the work process, tool, appliance, or equipment that was reported to create an undue hazard
  • Reasons why the task would not create an undue hazard to the health and safety of the other worker or any other person
  • The right of any other worker to refuse unsafe work
  • Any additional information, such as any steps that are being taken to correct the unsafe condition

'In writing' includes using written records, such as forms, written reports or logbooks, electronic records/reports, text or email, or photographs of these records that are sent by email. 

Even if a worker accepts refused work, if the original worker still believes the work is unsafe an investigation by a worker member of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) or an employee selected by the employee’s union must be completed. 

If that investigation does not satisfy the original worker that the work is safe, WorkSafeBC must notified. 

For more information about work refusal, read Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

Learn more about work safety with WorkSafeBC.


Health, safety and sick leave resources

The BC Public Service is committed to a culture that supports employee safety and health.

Whether you're managing your own health, or looking for information to support your team, we have the resources and supports you're looking for.



Contacts

If you're not employed by the B.C. provincial government please call WorkSafe BC at 1-888-621-SAFE (7233).

Call 911 for assistance if necessary.

For all other situations requiring immediate assistance, call the BC Public Service workplace health and safety 24-hour line (IDIR restricted). This number is for employees of the B.C. government and their managers only. 


Can’t find what you need?

Submit an AskMyHR (IDIR restricted) service request.

Use the categories Myself (or) My Team/Organization > Workplace Safety > Urgent Health & Safety Support

Add 'Work Refusal' in the subject line.

If you're a B.C. government employee without an IDIR, call the BC Public Service Agency to submit your service request