How to refuse unsafe work

Steps to refuse unsafe work

  1. Tell your supervisor immediately about the unsafe work. Explain why you believe the work to be unsafe and that you are exercising your rights to refuse unsafe work under Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. You may be assigned to do other work.
  2. Your supervisor must immediately investigate. If they agree that the work is unsafe they must fix the problem.
  3. If the supervisor disagrees that the work is unsafe then the supervisor, a JOHSC worker representative and you must investigate the problem together.
  4. If there is agreement that the work is unsafe, it must be dealt with as quickly as possible.
  5. If there is no agreement that the work is unsafe, and you still believe it is, then both you and the supervisor must notify an officer from WorkSafeBC. The officer must investigate the matter without undue delay and issue orders if necessary.
  6. The employer can only reassign work that has been refused under Section 3.12 to another worker by following the steps outlined in Section 3.12.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. See next section for details.

Reassignment of refused work

The employer can reassign the refused work/task to a second worker ONLY if they have advised, in writing, the second worker and one of the following people:

  • A worker member of the Joint Committee or Worker Representative
  • A worker who is selected by their union
  • If there is no JOHSC member or worker representative, then any other reasonably available worker selected by the first worker

The written advisory must include:

  1. the refusal
  2. the unsafe condition that was reported under 3.12
  3. the reasons why the task would not create an undue hazard to the health and safety of the second worker or any other person
  4. the right of the second worker to refuse unsafe work following the procedure under 3.12


  • You are not refusing to work. You are refusing to do the task or activity that you believe puts yourself or anyone else at risk of injury.
  • While your concern is being investigated, you may be assigned to temporary alternative work at no loss of pay, until the matter is resolved.
  • You cannot be disciplined in any way for exercising your right to refuse unsafe work even if WorkSafeBC decides the work is safe.