Health & Safety at Work

Health & Safety at Work 2017-09-19T19:01:12+00:00

Unfortunately, people do occasionally get hurt at work in such a way that they can no longer perform their duties.

In these cases, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) may pay compensation. While teachers in these situations are urged to contact their union immediately if they are unclear on what to do, the following website may offer the necessary information: www.csst.qc.ca

Occupational health and safety aren’t just a matter for the collective agreement – find out about the legislation here: Health and Safety: Accidents at Work (2017)

Frequently asked questions

Q. What is an accident at Work?

A: It is defined as a sudden and unforeseen event, attributable to any cause, which happens to a person, arising out of or in the course of his work and resulting in an employment injury to him.

Q: Who is responsible for establishing if it is an accident at work?

A: Each situation is analyzed by a CNEEST agent and is based on the medical notes provided by the doctor. In fact, it is the doctor who begins the process with the CNESST by filling out the medical report indicating the diagnosis and the link to employment.

This is why is it important to make an appointment with the doctor on the day the accident at work occurs and to fill out the register of accidents available in your school or centre.

Q: Why claim for an accident at work rather than take advantage of the salary insurance plan?

A: Recognition of an occupational injury by the CNESST allows you to:

  • retain your full salary with access to medical rehabilitation services until your condition has stabilized;
  • have recognized any permanent disabilities and functional restrictions relating to your job;
  • retain days in your sick-leave bank;
  • facilitate recognition of a recurrence, relapse or aggravation of the initial injury in the future.

Q: What are the minimum and maximum temperatures in our establishments?

A: The Quebec Regulation respecting occupational health and safety sets standards for the minimum obligatory temperature to be respected in our establishments, taking into account the nature of work being carried out. These standards require a minimum ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in situations involving mental work. This is reduced to 16 degrees Celsius for work carried out, for example, in a gymnasium. The basic formula is simple: the more our work requires us to move, the more the minimal temperature to be respected is reduced.

Schedule IV: Standards of temperature in establishments (article 117)
Nature of work performed and the minimum temperature required
  • Light work performed while sitting, especially mental work, precision work, or which requires reading or writing: 20°C
  • Light physical work performed while sitting, electric machine sewing and work with small machine tools: 19°C
  • Light work performed while standing, especially machine tool work: 17°C
  • Moderate work performed while standing, assembly and trimming: 16°C
  • Heavy work performed while standing, drilling and manual work with heavy tools: 12°C

Regulation respecting occupational health and safety
Extracted from the Act respecting occupational health and safety (R.S.Q., c. S-2.1, s. 223)

However, although the question is frequently asked during the (sometimes numerous) days of extreme heat at the beginning and end of the school year, the law does not set a maximum temperature to which workers may be exposed. This situation arises because of the many factors which must be taken into consideration depending on the work location: for example, relative humidity, exposure to the sun, physical demands of the work. This is why the CNESST suggests instead various means to limit the discomfort caused by heat (hydration, fans, etc.).

Q: When and how can the right of refusal be exercised? (Subject to the provisions of the act respecting occupational health and safety (articles 12 to 31) as well as 10-8.00 of the collective agreement)

A: A worker has an individual right to refuse to perform his or her work if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe that he/she could be exposed to danger to his/her health, safety or physical well-being or would expose another person to a similar danger (article 12 Act respecting occupational health and safety) (10-8.00 collective agreement)

Examples of situations that could lead to a right of refusal:

  • temperature in the classroom is too cold (below 20 degrees or 16 degrees in the gymnasium);
  • school yard is too icy to supervise recess;
  • absence of individual protection or defective equipment (e.g., in a lab or technical vocational centre).

The process is the following:

  1. the principal should be informed right away;
  2. the principal should speak to the union representative to analyze the situation and discuss corrections;
  3. if need be, because it may be litigious, an inspector may be called by the principal, union representative or the teacher;
  4. the inspector determines immediately whether or not a danger exists and may require the worker to resume her/his work. The inspector’s decision would take effect immediately even though the parties may not agree (possibly contested later on).
The worker is still entitled to a salary while exercising that right but should remain at the workplace and be available. The employer cannot take reprisals against a worker because he/she exercises such a right. (article 30)
The right of refusal cannot be exercised when it jeopardizes the life, health, safety and physical well-being of others or when the conditions are considered usual for this kind of work. (article 13)

Q: What are the obligations of my employer with regard to protecting my  health and safety in the place of work?

A: Every employer must take the necessary measures to protect the health and ensure the safety and physical well-being of his worker (article 51 of the Health and Safety Act; articles 4 and 46 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms; and article 2087 of the Civil Code).