IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

1988 : Research serving the world of work

The IRSST at the Sommet sur la technologie

At the Sommet sur la technologie (technology summit) held by the Québec government, the IRSST presented its vision in a brief titled La recherche en santé et en sécurité du travail: productive pour les milieux de travail et l’ensemble de l’économie (Occupational health and safety research: beneficial for workplaces and the economy as a whole). This vision consisted of ensuring, starting from the work-planning or new-technology integration stages, that decisions aimed at including a preventive approach be based on evidence-based data emerging from OHS research.

Partnership agreements

The Institute entered into numerous agreements with government, parapublic and private organizations. One of these partnership agreements, which concerned machine safety, was signed with NIOSH.


The IRSST joined forces with some 15 organizations to create an international association of OHS research institutes; it was named the Sheffield Group. The group promotes the exchange of scientific information and the signing of research partnership agreements. The IRSST is the only Canadian organization in the group, where, together with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the United States, it represents North America.

New system of exposure to solid aerosols

Malo Sacré coeur

Dr Jean-Luc Malo de l’hôpital du Sacré-Cœur

To remedy the deficiencies of conventional bronchial provocation, tests, the IRSST, in collaboration with l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, designed and validated a new system of exposure to solid aerosols. Using this advantageous system, it is possible to determine particle size and reduce the risks of violent allergic reactions in subjects. At no risk to workers or hospital staff, it is used by respirologists to diagnose occupational asthma, which is attributable to dust among other causes. The system was patented, automated and entrusted to a manufacturer to be commercialized.

Opening up to the private sector

The IRSST’s laboratories began offering their specialized services to a broader clientele than the CSST prevention network. For the first time, employer and union associations, private companies and various organizations were able to use these services to carry out environmental, toxicological and microbiological analyses, among others.

International expertise

Ilkka Kuorinka

To enhance its expertise, the IRSST spared no effort to attract eminent foreign researchers. Professor >Ilkka Kuorinka, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Safety and president of the International Ergonomics Association, joined the Institute’s team, where he took up the post of director of the Safety Ergonomics program.