Worker unhappy with safety progress refuses work

|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/22/2017

This instalment of You Make the Call involves a Canada Post employee who wasn’t happy with his employer’s handling of his environmental sensitivity.

Denis Tessier was a maintenance technician for Canada Post Corporation at its Ottawa mail processing plant. Tessier suffered from asthma that was exacerbated by low relative humidity and the dry air that results. In 2012, Tessier began experiencing wheezing, fatigue and lightheadedness at work due to the dry air and low humidity during winter and the use of heating in the building.

Tessier filed a hazard report and a grievance in December 2012 relating to his adverse health effects in the workplace. He followed this up with a formal complaint to Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) in January 2013, and eventually refused to work on Feb. 28, 2014, when things weren’t being done to his satisfaction. An HRSDC health and safety officer investigated and issued a direction to Canada Post on March 7, 2014, to rectify the low humidity, as lengthy exposure to “extremely low humidity levels in the workplace” could be a danger to Tessier. Canada Post responded by initiating steps to fix the problem.