Skip to content

Occupational safety and health in Canada is governed by a combination of federal laws and laws of the provinces or territory. Federal laws apply to approximately 10 per cent of the Canadian workforce including federal employees, those of federal corporations as well as certain inter-provincial industries such as railways, air transportation, broadcasting, banking, grain elevators and uranium mining and processing. The principal federal law is the Canadian Labor Code Part II. For example concerning coal mines the law includes:

    - duties of employers and employees and establishes the Coal Mining Safety Commission.

    - section 125.3 - Sets out the duties of every employer of employees in a coal mine. These duties include:

      - compliance with conditions imposed by the Coal Mining Safety Commission;
      - permit inspections; and
      - submitting all plans and procedures to the Coal Mine Safety Commission and conforming activities to those plans.

      In addition the provision requires that employers obtain approval for operating any machine for which no safety standard exists; and search employees and others for alcohol and drugs.

    - The laws also sets out duties of employees (126.(1)), the right of employees to refuse to operate a machine or thing which the employee considers to be dangerous (128), employees right to complain (133), mandatory safety and health committees for employers of 20 or more employees (135), establishes the Coal Mine Safety Commission (137), and the Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health.

Other employers and employees in Canada are covered by safety and health laws adopted by provinces and territories. Many of the general provisions of these laws are similar to the Canadian Labour Code Part II. In addition, the laws and regulations of the provinces may include detailed provisions on various safety and health issues. For example, Alberta Regulation 292/95 concerning Mine Safety includes provisions on: training and certification; emergency response plans; explosives; ventilation; gas detection; and fire prevention.