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Health, Safety, and Environment Committee

Unifor on Health, Safety and the Environment: Unions historically spoke of three fundamental workers' rights in health and safety:

the right to know about workplace hazards and obtain information and training;
the right to refuse (in some cases to shut down) unsafe work;
the right to participate in decision making about health and safety through Joint Committees.

The right to participate is very important to us and forms the centrepiece of an effective workplace health and safety program. In some ways, the other two "rights" flow from this one. The Unifor's predecessor unions fought for Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) so that those with the most knowledge of the hazards and who are directly exposed to the risks - the workers - would have a voice in health and safety conditions at work. Our objective is to empower our members.

In addition, Unifor worked for better legislation and regulation. To back up joint workplace approaches, good regulations and good enforcement are necessary. It is not a question of one approach being better than the other. Without a workplace consensus on the need for occupational health and safety excellence, there will never be enough regulation and enforcement to make a difference. Without the laws, however, there is no way to deal with those employers who are unwilling to make a joint approach work.

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