Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act Act 1979 have been quite common to establish new procedures as well as new rights and duties for workers, employers, supervisors and others in the workplace. Out of the many amendments, one which is considered important one is the Joint Heath & Safety Committee’s right to participate in health and safety recommendations. There are three basic rights given to the workers.
According to the Ham Commission Report, that was instrumental in establishing the rights every worker working under the employer has the right to know, participate and refuse to work under unsafe conditions. The employers and the supervisors under them have to make sure the employees and workers working under them are working under safe conditions. Workers need to be made aware of hazards of the work. They can even hire an employment lawyer if faced with any difficulties. They have the right to know the risk they are facing by people, equipment, materials, the environment, and processes they are working under.
The workers not only should know about the risks if any, but they need to be trained for the repercussions. They need to receive information about dangerous and hazardous substances that they are exposed to, or are likely to be exposed. Their participation in the work needs to considered and benefits given accordingly.
The questions raised by the workers concerning their health and safety or that of a coworker have to be answered by the employers. They have the right to be a part of the process of identifying, assessing and controlling workplace health and safety hazards. Remember this participation can also be achieved by reporting unsafe conditions to the supervisor or employer.
If the workers understand that the risks are too much to bear or there isn’t any valid protection being provided to them they can refuse the work rather than endangering themselves, or any other worker. The employer will need to respect their stand as the Act includes a detailed process for refusing unsafe work and explains the employer’s responsibility for responding to work refusals. The workers get protection from reprisal, or retaliation, from the employer if they decide to refuse unsafe work.