• Issued: May 2, 2013
  • Content last reviewed: June 2019


Stay safe at work

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of all parties in the workplace. It outlines ways of dealing with workplace hazards and it provides for enforcement of the law when safety rules aren’t followed.

Every day in Ontario, an average of nearly 20 young workers under age 25 sustain lost-time injuries or are killed on the job. Don’t get hurt at work! Protect yourself!

By law, you have the right to:

  • know about hazards in your workplace and how to protect your health and safety.
  • participate in finding solutions for workplace health and safety concerns.
  • refuse unsafe work.

You must:

  • work safely. Use the equipment that you are required to use, and use it properly. Keep protection devices in place. Wear your safety gear.
  • report hazards (and violations of workplace health and safety law) right away to your supervisor or employer.

12 Tips for Staying Safe at Work

1. Get training.

Learn how to work safely. Follow the rules and know what to do in an emergency.

2. Be supervised.

Supervisor, will you be here to see that I do the job right? If you’re not around, whom should I ask?

3. Wear the gear.

Hair nets, gloves, aprons, safety glasses, ear plugs, etc. Use them properly as required.

4. Identify risks.

Before you start the job, report unsafe practices and situations to your supervisor or employer.

5. If you don’t know, ask!

There are no “dumb” questions. Learn about your rights and obligations under the OHSA.

6. Do your job.

Don’t do anything you haven’t been asked to do, or have been told specifically not to do.

7. Follow the safety rules.

And if you don’t know the safety rules, ask your supervisor.

8. Report hazards.

Tell your supervisor if you see anything hazardous, even if it involves another worker.

9. If you’re hurt.

No matter how minor, report injuries to your supervisor or employer and tell your family.

10. Talk to your family.

Tell them what you’re doing at work. Let them know if you think something’s wrong.

11. Be honest.

If a task is too much for you, say so! Don’t attempt something that you can’t handle.

12. Never assume.

Don’t assume you can do something without instruction, guidance or supervision.

Call 1-877-202-0008 toll-free anytime to report critical injuries, fatalities, work refusals or other concerns. Call 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, for general inquiries about workplace health and safety.

In an emergency, always call 911 immediately. (TTY: 1-855-653-9260)

Learn more:

Young Workers
Health and Safety

It's your job to protect yourself.

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You have rights at work

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets minimum standards for things like pay, work hours and time off. Most workplaces in Ontario must follow this law and employee rights are the same whether you work full-time or part-time. For detailed information on employment standards in Ontario visit Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

The Basics

1. Pay day

Expect a regular pay day and a pay stub that is clear. Keep your own record of the hours that you work.

2. Deductions from wages

Some employers require you to pay for your uniform. Deductions from your wages to pay for a uniform may be made only if you agree in writing to have a specified amount deducted.

If a customer leaves without paying, or your error costs your employer money, that amount cannot be deducted from your wages.

3. Tips and other gratuities

Employers cannot withhold tips and other gratuities from employees or make deductions from their employees’ tips to cover things like spillage, breakage, losses or damage, etc. However, employers can make deductions from employees’ tips and other gratuities if it is authorized by statute or a court order, or if the amount will be distributed to other employees as part of a tip pool.

4. The Employment Standards Poster

The Employment Standards Poster describes important rights and requirements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Employers are required to give every employee a copy of the poster.

5. What is work time?

Time spent in training that is required by the employer or by law counts as work time. If you have to transport materials from the workplace to another job site, that is work time, too.

6. Can I be required to work on a public holiday?

If you work in a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant, tavern, hospital or an establishment with continuous operations, you may be required to work on a public holiday. If you work on a public holiday, you may be entitled to premium pay.

7. Are there special rules?

Some jobs have special rules or exemptions. To learn more, try our Special Rule Tool.

8. What’s my vacation pay?

For employees with less than five years of employment, vacation pay is at least four per cent of wages (excluding vacation pay).

For employees with five or more years of employment, vacation pay is at least six per cent of the gross wages earned in the 12-month vacation entitlement year or stub period. Any vacation pay not already paid is owed to you when your employment ends.

Learn more:

Employment Standards
Young Workers
Employment Standards Tools

Employment Standards Information Centre

416-326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area)
1-800-531-5551 (Toll-free)
1-866-567-8893 (TTY for hearing impaired)

Information is available in multiple languages.

It's your job to know your rights.

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Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help you understand some of the rights and obligations established under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the ESA, OHSA or their regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation. Although we endeavor to ensure that the information in this resource is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. The ESA provides minimum standards only. Some employees may have greater rights under an employment contract, collective agreement, the common law or other legislation. You may wish to obtain legal advice.