Health and safety has been defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as:
“The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being. The prevention of ill-health among workers caused by their working conditions. The protection of workers from factors adverse to their health in their employment, and the placing and maintaining of workers in occupational environments adapted to their individual and psychological conditions.”
This definition has been adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated Unions including the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The ILO definition of health and safety goes well beyond the historical concerns of workers, which were about being able to “leave work alive”. We now look at a broad range of issues that affect workers. Not only do we want to ensure our members are not injured in their daily work, we need to look at the work and how it may be affecting their long-term physical and mental health. Protecting our members is a shared responsibility.
Even though the employer is responsible to provide a healthy and safe work environment, it is our responsibility to ensure the employer complies with their obligations under legislation and our collective agreements.
If you have identified a hazard, advise your supervisor and union representative immediately. Remember that you have the right to know about potential hazards and refuse dangerous work.