Workers Health & Safety Centre

Researchers want to hear from workers penalized for raising OHS complaints

Researchers want to hear from workers penalized for raising OHS complaints
Have you been disciplined for raising a health and safety concern at work? Did you use legal means to settle your complaint?
If this is your experience it is critical to new research being conducted at McMaster University. Led by Professor Wayne Lewchuk, researchers will study the effectiveness of Ontario’s system for protecting workers from reprisals when they raise health and safety complaints at work. Researchers hope the study will help identify ways to better protect workers. The study is funded by the Ministry of Labour Prevention Branch but the MOL has no direct role in this study.
Researchers hope to interview workers who have made a complaint, experienced a reprisal and resolved the issue through settlement, hearing or other legal avenues. Under Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act, it is illegal for Ontario employers to dismiss, discipline, penalize, intimidate or coerce a worker for raising a health and safety complaint and requesting action (OHSA s50(1)).
More than six years ago, a government-appointed expert panel reviewing Ontario’s occupational health and safety system acknowledged workers need improved protection from reprisals, greater support for those affected and speedier handling of complaints.  
As a result of the panel recommendations, the Office of the Worker Advisor has an expanded mandate to represent unorganized workers who have suffered a reprisal. Unorganized workers can also seek help through the Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic.

Want to participate in the McMaster Reprisal study?

Interested workers will be asked to participate in an interview. Participation is anonymous. Names of individuals, including employers, will not be used and will be kept strictly confidential. Participants will receive an honorarium of $50.
Want to share your story? Contact the researchers directly at 416-407-5271 or by email
WHSC encourages workers and their representatives to spread the word about this important research and share the project flyer.

Other related resources:
OFL Culture of Fear:  A report on the status of the enforcement of reprisal protection for workers under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
The Workers Health & Safety Centre offers a full range of health and safety training programs and resources for workers  to help them understand and fully exercise their health and safety rights. Check out WHSC’s poster resources which overview OHS key rights and duties.
To learn more:
Email: or
Call:    1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative