Refusing Unsafe Work

I remember being asked to take an EWP to the top of a two storey building and hop out and do a quick weld. Just a couple of catches, 1- you don’t “hop out” of a EWP without a permit (it’s not an easy permit to get either). 2- the anchor bars were missing and I was being asked to clip onto the railing of the EWP (this lift was a relic and probably had not had and inspection or maintenance since dinosaurs roamed the Earth). While a supervisor was explaining this task, I simply said NO and it was my right to do so. I would like to think that workers are no longer put in these situations but unfortunately they are. Not all unsafe conditions are as negligent as this, sometimes something has just been overlooked. Either case you have the right to refuse unsafe work. You have the right to do this without the fear of any punishment, loss of time or loss of wages. Now this being said, please be aware that saying no to a task means that there is imminent danger to yourself or others. Not just a task you don’t want to do. You need to first inform your supervisor of the hazard. If the problem is not readily fixable there will generally be an investigation to fix the problem. If you are still unwilling to do the task, a member of OHS will get involved to rectify the situation. The worker may be given a different job to do while this is going on. This is not a punishment, it’s to keep you working and not lose hours.

If you are being asked to break safety protocol or do something that is unusually hazardous, it is not only your right to refuse it but you also owe it to yourself and your family not to take risks with your life or someone else’s just to please your boss or coworkers. Stand your ground and be safe.

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