Every year more than 2 million people die from occupational accidents or work-related diseases. By conservative estimates, there are 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million cases of occupational disease. The safety of work varies enormously between countries, economic sectors and social groups. Deaths and injuries take a particularly heavy toll in developing nations, where large numbers of people are engaged in hazardous activities such as agriculture, construction, logging, fishing and mining. Throughout the world, the poorest and least protected – often women, children and migrants – are among the most affected. The ILO places special importance on developing and applying a preventative safety and health culture in workplaces worldwide. In 2003, the ILO began to observe World Day stressing the prevention of illness and accidents at work on every 28 April, capitalizing on its traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue. 28 April is also a day the world's trade union movement has long associated with commemorating victims of occupational accidents and disease.
Canadian occupational health and safety legislation is primarily based on three fundamental rights of workers:
* the right to be informed of known or foreseeable safety or health hazards in the workplace;
* the right to participate in the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases either as members of joint health and safety committees or as health and safety representatives; and
* the right to refuse dangerous work and be protected against dismissal or disciplinary action following a legitimate refusal.
The occupational health and safety Acts usually lay down these principles and the general duties of employers and workers. Regulations issued under these Acts specify technical requirements that must be complied with, set standards that must met and prescribe procedures that must be followed to reduce the risk of occupational accidents and diseases.
Officials appointed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments have the power to inspect workplaces and make a variety of orders directed at the employers and workers. Inspections may be requested by employees, and the law protects them against dismissal or disciplinary action for seeking the enforcement of the occupational health and safety legislation.
The following documentation is not intended to be a substitute for the relevant federal, provincial or territorial statutes and regulations governing occupational health and safety. Users are reminded that it is prepared for convenience only and that, as such, it has no official sanction. Users are therefore advised to consult the actual texts of the legislative provisions whose summary is provided below.
* Recent and historic changes to occupational health and safety legislation * Jurisdiction of the federal government and the provinces/territories * Canadian legislation relating to joint occupational health and safety committees(PDF Document) * Canadian legislation relating to safety and health representatives (PDF Document) * Canadian legislation relating to the right to refuse dangerous work (PDF Document) * Enforcement Orders of Health and Safety Officers/Inspectors (PDF Document) * Prevention of violence in the workplace (PDF Version)