Health and Safety Legislation

Occupational health and safety legislation regulates the standards of workplace health and safety with the aim to prevent workplace accidents, injuries and diseases, and outlines consequences for breaches of those standards. It details responsibilities of employers, supervisors and employees. Generally, the legislation requires employers to do everything they can reasonably do to protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. This includes, but is not limited to: providing appropriate training for handling potentially dangerous equipment and/or material, informing employees of potential dangers in the workplace and setting up safe work practices. Under the legislation, employees have the right to refuse to perform work that is unsafe.

Health and safety are important issues in all workplaces and as such, organizations are required to comply with health and safety regulations and acts.

Health and safety is usually regulated by provincial or territorial legislation, unless your organization falls under federal jurisdiction. While all provinces and territories have similar legislation, there are differences among them. It is important to visit your province or territory’s health and safety website for information that is relevant to you and your organization.

You need to consult health and safety legislation on a variety of issues, including but not limited to:
  • Refusal to work because of unsafe conditions
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Dangerous equipment/material
  • Emergency procedures
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • First aid skills requirements

Contact your provincial/territorial office dealing with occupational health and safety if you have any questions or concerns about your workplace. Websites are listed below.

Workers compensations boards are insurance boards that ensure employees will have access to income and benefits if they become injured at work or if they contract a disease caused by workplace conditions. They also protect employers from being sued by employees who are injured on the job or who become ill because of workplace conditions. In some jurisdictions, workers compensation boards provide ongoing training and resources on occupational health and safety. In the links below, we've included the body responsible for providing this information and, where they are separate organizations, the link to the Workers Compensation Board.

Excellent Websites, Tools and Resources:

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has an excellent, comprehensive website. The OHS Answers section addresses common questions including information about legislation. It is one of the best sources of information about occupational health and safety. Many of the sites below link directly to this website for further information about key issues.

The Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) website includes a link to an excellent Workplace Violence Prevention Series produced by the Occupational Health & Safety Council of Ontario.


Alberta Human Resources and Employment – Workplace Health and Safety

Workers' Compensation Board of Alberta

British Columbia

Workers' Compensation Board of BC –


Manitoba Labour and Immigration – Workplace Safety and Health Division

Workers' Compensation Board of Manitoba

New Brunswick

Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Health and Safety Division

Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Environment and Labour – Occupational Health and Safety Division

Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Workers' Compensation Board for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut


Ontario Ministry of Labour – Occupational Health and Safety

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for Ontario

Prince Edward Island

Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island


La Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST)


Saskatchewan Department of Labour – Occupational Health and Safety

Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board


Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board