Volunteers are people who perform tasks free of charge and voluntarily for an employer, an organization or a responsible authority (a municipality, RCM or ministry).
Occupational health and safety
To be recognized as a volunteer under the Loi sur la santé et de la sécurité du travail, the assistance offered must be accepted by the employer, organization or responsible authority.
As with other workers, volunteers may be in situations that put their health and safety at risk. However, they are not automatically insured by the CNESST in the event of a work accident.
In order for volunteers to be protected in the event of a work accident, the employer must apply for coverage for volunteer workers (in French only). This coverage is optional.
Volunteers who assist personnel deployed during an event covered by the Loi sur la sécurité civile or during a state of emergency such as spring floods are protected by the CNESST. The responsible authority is then considered to be the employer of these people. The responsible authority must maintain a detailed register of the names and addresses of people who participate in civil protection activities.
In the event of a work accident, volunteers who are protected may be entitled to income replacement indemnity and, if necessary, receive health care and physical, social and vocational rehabilitation.
Coverage for volunteers in the event of a work accident excludes the right to return to work.
As with other workers, volunteers have a responsibility to take the necessary safety precautions to protect their own health and safety and to ensure that they do not endanger the health and safety of others. Each sector of activity has its own risks.
Volunteers are advised to check with their employer to find out if they have insurance coverage from the CNESST.
Measures must be taken by employers to protect the health and safety of volunteers. In particular, the employer must:
- ensure the safe organization of work
- provide the necessary protective equipment
- inform volunteers of the risks associated with the work
- provide appropriate instruction, supervision and training