Safe Workplaces: The Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace Regulations 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 the Northwest Territories 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? Only Saskatchewan and British Columbia have regulations on the prevention of MSI in the workplace. The federal workplace jurisdiction and Manitoba will be passing ergonomics regulations soon.
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 Northwest Territories workplaces are found in the General Safety Regulations under the territorial Safety Act. An employer must ensure that a worker is not working with noise levels above the limits set in the regulation. The limit is 85 decibels for 8 hours within a 24 hour period.
If the worker works with noise levels higher than 85 decibels for 8 hours, then the employer must lower the number of hours the worker works at that noise level, according to precise noise levels and work hours set in the regulation. If the noise level is higher than the legal limit, the employer gives the worker special hearing protection equipment. But before giving the worker hearing protection equipment, the employer is legally obliged to try to lower the noise level and separate the worker from the source of the noise.
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 have to 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? NWT's General Safety Regulations under the Safety Act state that in case a worker is injured, and the work is such that the worker might not be able to get help, then the employer has to ensure that the worker's welfare is monitored regularly.
While BC and Saskatchewan have specific regulations on protecting workers from violence in the workplace, NWT has no such regulation.