Safe Workplaces: The Right to a Safe and Healthy WorkplaceRegulations respecting workers' right to a safe and healthy workplace address only certain workplace hazards. Not all workplace hazards are regulated, and in the various jurisdictions, hazards are regulated differently. Here is a sample of common workplace hazards and the regulations meant to limit or eliminate those hazards. Compare the regulations in Manitoba with regulations in the other provinces and territories.
Ergonomic hazards in the office can cause musculo skeletal injury (MSI) or repetitive strain injury (RSI). The injury "carpel tunnel syndrome" is an example. Regulations followed by the employer are meant to protect office workers from MSI. What is the regulation on MSI respecting workers' right to a safe and healthy workplace?
Musculoskeletal Injury is defined in Section 8 of the Workplace Saftey and Health Regulations as an injury or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels or related soft tissue including a sprain, strain or inflammation, that may occur to a worker in a workplace. Where an employer is aware, or ought reasonably to have been aware, or has been advised that a work activity creates a risk of musculoskeletal injury, the employer must ensure that the risk is assessed, and on the basis of the assessment, implement control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk. An employer must monitor the effectiveness of control measures and where the monitoring identifies that a risk is not being or has not been eliminated or reduced, implement further control measures. Employees must be informed of the MSI risk and trained on how to properly use control measures.
Two main health effects of working with noise are hearing loss and stress. Workplace noise can be caused by traffic, pneumatic tools, power tools, machinery, ventilation systems, humans and animals, for example. Regulations followed by the employer are meant to protect workers from too much noise. What is the regulation on noise respecting workers' right to a safe and healthy workplace?Noise exposure limits in Manitoba workplaces are found in the Hearing Conservation and Noise Control Regulation under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. An employer must ensure that a worker is not working with noise levels above the limit set in the regulation. The limit is 90 db in an 8 hour day.
Warning signs have to mark areas where the noise level is above 90 db. The employer works to lower the noise level to 80 db through "sound control measures", like replacing or changing noisy equipment, placing a sound barrier that separates workers from the source of the noise, or changing the work. The names of workers working with noise levels above 8O db are given to the joint health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative by the employer, and are posted at the workplace for workers to see.
Education on the hazards of working with noise is organized by the employer for workers working with noise above 80 db, and for the supervisors of these workers. Workers working with noise levels above 85 db are also given hearing protectors, as well as education on the benefits and limits of wearing hearing protectors. Hearing testing for workers working with noise levels above 80 db is organized by the employer, though no later than 70 days after employment starts, and once a year after that. Each worker is given her or his test results.
Regulations followed by the employer are meant to protect workers from hazardous materials, like workplace chemicals. What is the regulation on hazardous materials respecting workers' right to a safe and healthy workplace?Regulations in every province, territory and in the federal workplace jurisdiction state that employers must educate and train workers on certain hazardous workplace materials. These materials are "classified", or named, in the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS). Click here for more information on WHMIS.
Some workplace materials that might be hazardous are not classified under WHIMS. These materials include cosmetics, pesticides, and objects made of wood. Hazardous materials classified under WHMIS include compressed gas, flammable and combustible materials, oxidizing materials, poisonous and infectious materials, corrosive materials and dangerously reactive materials. Each comes with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and a WHMIS warning label.
The MSDS and the WHMIS warning label explain the dangers of the material and how to work safely with it. In order to better protect the worker, the employer trains the worker in reading the WHMIS label and data sheet, on safely using the hazardous material, and on responding to a spill, release, fire or poisoning.
Working alone is not always hazardous, but it can be hazardous, especially when there is an injury or other emergency. Working alone is also hazardous when work is done with the public and there's a possibility of violence. Regulations followed by the employer are meant to protect workers from the hazards of working alone and from workplace violence. What is the regulation on working alone and workplace violence respecting workers' right to a safe and healthy workplace?Manitoba's law on working alone is found in the Workers Working Alone Regulation under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. According to the regulation, the employer has to develop and implement a plan to protect a worker who works alone and whose work might result in injury, illness, "victimization through criminal violence" or other serious event.
The plan includes information on the "risks" in the worker's work, ways to limit the risks, and emergency details if there's an injury or if there's a serious event endangering the worker. The plan is made with the joint health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative and the worker who's working alone. When developing the plan, the employer can use the Manitoba government's Code of Practice for Workers Working Alone.