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An engineer by training, Sylvain Pelletier was named Director of the IRSST’s Research and Expertise Division after being in charge of the Mechanical and Physical Risk Prevention and Chemical and Biological Hazard Prevention departments. He came to the Institute with over 20 years of prior experience at the Industrial Materials Institute of the National Research Council Canada. Mr. Pelletier holds a PhD in Material Sciences.
A number of different means are used to transfer knowledge. In 2015, the IRSST organized a webinar involving 450 participants to launch a new diagnostic tool on work/study balance. Specifically designed for students who also work, this online tool offers them practical advice, strategies, and food for thought. It is the result of the joint efforts of the group ÉCOBES, Instances régionales de concertation sur la persévérance scolaire et la réussite educative du Québec (a regional cooperation forum on student retention and academic success in Québec), Réunir Réussir (R2), and the IRSST to promote OHS among young people who study and work concurrently.
Webinar: Conciliation études-travail
Two IRSST-funded studies on exposure to disinfection by-products drew the attention of OHS practitioners concerned about water and air quality at indoor swimming pools. In addition to involving 41 Montréal and Québec City swimming pools in a broad-based sampling campaign to determine their levels of water and air contamination, the Institute elicited the collaboration of the municipal, aquatics, and public health sectors to promote mobilization of the stakeholders. One of the spinoffs of these projects was the retention of chloramines (potentially toxic by-products of the reaction between chlorine and ammonia) as an intervention priority by the CNESST and the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail with respect to indoor pool maintenance workers.
The theme of the 2015 institutional colloquium was a subject that has ranked among the IRSST’s top priorities since it was founded: L’impact des recherches : mesures, approches et application au domaine de la SST (the impact of research: measures, strategies and application in the OHS field). Mindful of the spinoffs that its studies generate, the Institute invited speakers to talk about issues such as the scope and limitations of measures of spinoffs of the advancement of knowledge, the difficulty of evaluating these spinoffs, and the role of researchers in knowledge translation. One hundred and sixty people took part in the 2015 annual colloquium.
In addition to conducting research, the IRSST offers a variety of services to its partners. In 2015, the Institute’s personnel devoted 563 days of work, which represents 2.5 full-time equivalent employees per year, to responding to 107 requests for expert assessments. The CNESST is a major partner, with the IRSST’s scientific personnel spending the equivalent of 113.5 working days solely on CNESST requests for expert assessments.
No fewer than 44 national and international collaboration agreements, including six new ones, were signed over the course of the year by the IRSST and its partners in 2015. These new agreements include a master partnership agreement with Japan’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (JNIOSH), a master partnership agreement with Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health Institute, and, surprisingly, an agreement with the Musée de la civilisation de Québec, which provides for the IRSST’s and PRIMA Québec’s participation in an exhibition on nanotechnologies.
The Institute launched its third-generation Web site. This involved the complete revamping of the graphics and architecture of the www.irsst.qc.ca Web site to make it easier for Web users to locate and access the many scientific documents offered. Technological changes also allowed content presentation to be adapted for devices such as tablet PCs and smart phones.
The greatest honours went to the Scientific Advisory Board, with one of its members receiving a Prix du Québec. Professor Emeritus Benoit Lévesque was awarded the Prix Marie-Andrée-Bertrand, which the Québec government bestows on a person whose research work, through its scope and scientific calibre, has led to the development and implementation of important social innovations that enhance individual and collective well-being. Co-founder of the Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales, Mr. Lévesque has distinguished himself by his outstanding contributions in the areas of social economy and social innovations. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Institut des sciences humaines et sociales of Université de Liège in Belgium.
Another member of the IRSST’s Scientific Advisory Board and an honorary professor at Université de Montréal, André Dufresnesaw his scientific contribution recognized by his peers at the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which awarded him the Donald E. Cummings Memorial Award 2015. This prestigious award officially recognizes Dr. Dufresne’s outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge and industrial hygiene practice.
The Laboratory Division enhanced its equipment inventory by acquiring a transmission electron microscope (TEM). Prior to this acquisition, the IRSST was obliged to rent user time elsewhere or subcontract certain analyses to American laboratories.