Health & Safety rights are legislated

Did you know that nurses have legislated rights when it comes to Workplace Safety and Health issues within their workplaces?

In fact, these rights are enshrined in the Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations and are among some of the strongest in the country. These rights cannot be tempered or reduced by employers because they are the laws of the province of Manitoba.

More importantly, no person or organization is exempt from the legislation.

SAFE Manitoba is an excellent resource for all health and safety concerns.


Issue in your workplace?

Got an ongoing Workplace Safety and Health concern in your workplace? Contact the WSH committee representative to have it reviewed and discussed at the next safety committee meeting.

The law states the names of all WSH committee members must be posted in a visible place. Find information on how to contact your committee representative on the Safety Bulletin Board in your workplace.

Icon - Get InvolvedRemember, in order to see change, you have to get involved!

Know your rights

Four of the primary rights nurses (and all workers) have under the WSH Act are:

1Right to know

Employers must inform nurses about hazards within their workplaces. Nurses should be trained to recognize hazards and informed about their rights under the law. Where hazards exist, employers must create safe work procedures, and train staff to ensure their health and safety is protected.

2Right to participate

Every nurse has the right to bring forward WSH concerns to the employer. They also have the right to participate in the WSH Committee as a member by allowing their name to stand for election/or selection to the WSH Committee.

3Right to refuse

Nurses have the right to refuse unsafe work.

There are cases where a potentially dangerous patient/resident with a history of violence requires care. It is considered a breach of the WSH Act for the employer to ask the nurse to ignore this right and continue to care for the patient/resident.

The human complication of the patient brings an added dynamic to nurses exercising their right to refuse unsafe work. This emphasizes the importance of having a discussion with the supervisor to resolve/remove the threats and/or hazards in the workplace.

The key to resolving the right to refuse unsafe work is to be involved in real-time solutions and discussion with the goal of delivering safe patient care.

Remember, all staff must be trained in the right to refuse by the employer. In the WRHA for example, their policy clearly states that all staff must be trained in this procedure after hire, and entitled to further training on an “as needed basis.”

4Right to be free of discriminatory action

The right to not be discriminated against is also entrenched within the WSH legislation.

This right offers protection to nurses, in their workplace, from discriminatory action by employers when they exercise their right to refuse, if they were to testify in a legal proceeding under the WSH Act, if they are providing information to the appropriate authority about workplace conditions, if they are performing their duties as a committee person under the act, complying with the act or regulation and/or attempting to have the act or regulation enforced.