It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace for all employees. Teachers have the right to refuse unsafe work (Sections 3.12 and 3.13 of WCB Regulations). Examples of unsafe work for teachers: serious communicable diseases, physical problems like the presence of mold, asbestos or construction, violence or threats of violence, ergonomics, etc.
The refusal of unsafe work is an individual decision. It cannot be as a collective strategy by a group of workers. Individuals must have reasonable cause to believe that the workplace is unsafe for them. Where it concerns a violent child, for example, the teacher must provide sufficient documentation to support the claim.
The Act requires that any person, who has reason to believe that an unsafe condition exists in the workplace, must report it. The unsafe condition may affect the teacher or anyone else. This is an exception to the usual practice of “work now, grieve later.” The teacher informs the principal and asks to be reassigned immediately. It is against the law for an employer to counsel a teacher against reporting an unsafe condition or violent incident. Employers can be fined personally for doing so.
The situation is resolved when sufficient changes have been made to ensure the safety of the employee, and the employee is satisfied with the changes.