Refuse work – imminent danger

Refuse work – imminent danger

You must refuse and report work that might put you or other workers into imminent danger. Here’s how.


What’s important to know

Imminent danger is a precise term under the Alberta OHS Act. It means either:

  • A danger that’s not normal for that job, or
  • A danger under which a person engaged in that job would not normally carry out their work

Chances are it’s a hazard the worker hasn’t been trained or equipped for.

How it works

Workers on provincially regulated work sites must not carry out any work they reasonably think will put either themselves or other workers in imminent danger. Asking a worker to work in a situation of imminent danger is against the law.


  • if you refuse unsafe work, it’s your employer’s duty to address the issue and eliminate the imminent danger
  • you can’t be dismissed or disciplined for refusing unsafe work

If you think an unsafe work condition exists but believe there’s no imminent danger, you must still report it to your employer to determine the next steps.

Call the OHS Contact Centre right away if you’re concerned about immediate harm or injury from work, to you or anyone else:
1-866-415-8690 (toll-free in Alberta)
780-415-8690 (in Edmonton)

How to address imminent danger

Worker obligations

If you’re being asked to do work you think could lead to imminent danger for you or another worker, follow these steps:

  1. Don’t do the work.
  2. Tell your employer as soon as possible what you’re refusing to do, and why. Your employer should then investigate and take action to eliminate the imminent danger. This may include the employer finding a qualified worker to do the work.
  3. Call the OHS Contact Center if your employer won’t stop work you think is dangerous.
  4. Do other work your employer assigns to you in the meantime, providing:
    • you can reasonably do it, and
    • it’s safe.
  5. Review the report your employer gives you about their investigation into the imminent danger, and the actions they take to fix it.
  6. Call the OHS Contact Center if you think your employer hasn’t corrected the situation.

Employer obligations

If you’re an employer who’s been notified your worker is refusing work they think is unsafe, you’re required to look into and eliminate the danger. If an employee refuses unsafe work, follow these steps:

  1. Investigate and take action to eliminate the imminent danger.
  2. Ensure that no worker is assigned to the same equipment or work unless either:
    • the worker to be assigned is not exposed to the imminent danger, or
    • the imminent danger has been eliminated.
  3. You may temporarily send the worker to another job, but at no loss of pay.
  4. Document in writing the worker’s notification, your investigation, and what actions you took.
  5. Give the worker a copy of the written report.

If you have questions about how to handle a worker’s refusal to do work they think is unsafe, call the OHS Contact Centre.


In case of any inconsistency between this information and the OHS Act, Regulation, Code, the legislation will always prevail.

Modified: 2016-02-16
PID: 15336