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

About the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST)

The IRSST conducts and funds research activities aimed at eliminating risks to worker health and safety and at promoting worker rehabilitation.


The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), established in Québec since 1980, is a scientific research organization well known for the expertise of its personnel and the quality of its work.


In the spirit of Québec’s Act respecting occupational health and safety, whose goal is the identification and “elimination, at the source, of dangers to the health, safety and physical well-being of workers,” the IRSST’s mission is:

To contribute

to contribute, through research, to the prevention of industrial accidents and occupational diseases and to the rehabilitation of affected workers;

To disseminate

to disseminate knowledge and serve as a scientific reference centre and expert;

To provide the laboratory services

to provide the laboratory services and expertise required to support the public occupational health and safety network: Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) and its network, joint sector-based associations (JSAs).

To fulfill this mission, the IRSST:

  • carries out and funds research in its priority research fields;
  • supports the development of research and new knowledge in occupational health and safety, in collaboration with the scientific community;
  • disseminates and promotes knowledge generated through research, in both the workplace and scientific communities;
  • plays a leadership role and anticipates emerging needs, raising awareness, and creating synergy in the area of occupational health and safety research;
  • contributes to researcher training in occupational health and safety;
  • provides laboratory services to the CNESST and its network;
  • contributes to the development of standards and regulations governing occupational health and safety;
  • responds to ad hoc requests for specific expertise originating from various occupational health and safety stakeholders.


Through its leadership in occupational health and safety research, the IRSST seeks:

  • to fulfill its role as a reference centre vital to the operations and strategies of the CNESST and its network;
  • to be used by its social partners in a spirit of joint collaboration;
  • to win recognition at the national and international levels;
  • to derive maximum benefit from a well-established network of research and development collaborators.


The IRSST team is composed of some 150 individuals, including a scientific corps of more than 80 researchers, professionals and technicians from various disciplines:

  • ergonomics
  • industrial hygiene
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • engineering
  • sociology
  • anthropology
  • demography
  • psychology

Addressing Research Needs

Given the highly diverse and complex challenges associated with occupational health and safety in Québec, the IRSST cannot conduct scientific activities with equal intensity in all research fields. To ensure that its efforts are channelled toward the most promising niches, the Institute continually identifies and updates priority needs.

The IRSST ascertains its partners’ main concerns and expectations through formal and periodic exchange mechanisms, involving primarily the senior management of the CNESST, the joint sector-based associations, the MSSS and its network, and both employer and union associations. These needs play the key role in determining the Institute’s priorities.
By conducting research, participating in various scientific events and serving on standardization committees, researchers affiliated with the IRSST stay at the forefront of knowledge. They are thus in an ideal position to single out persistent problems that require ongoing research, as well as emerging problems that may require close attention.
In-depth statistical analyses using the databases of the CNESST and certain other Québec-, federal, and international organizations allow the Institute to detect high-risk populations or industrial activity sectors. In addition, the examination of accident files involving death or serious injury helps bring specific problems to light.
Structured scientific watch activities help situate IRSST research in relation to research carried out elsewhere in the world. They also serve to identify emerging problems likely to affect Québec workplaces in the medium and long terms.


The Institute supports the activities of its occupational health and safety partners by providing them with access to knowledge, expertise and tools that have been developed and validated using rigorous scientific methods. The reliability and relevance of this information assures them of solid foundations on which to base their various activities in the areas of information, training, inspection, advisory services and technical assistance.

Aided by the IRSST, partners with daily involvement in OHS, are given the opportunity:

  • to influence research orientations and participate actively in projects;
  • to gain access to scientific knowledge and applications that meet their needs;
  • to use research findings in their capacity as information intermediaries;
  • to perform environmental and biological monitoring in the workplace with the support of technical and laboratory services as part of an industrial hygiene approach;
  • to benefit from the linking of the IRSST’s scientific and technical activities to the operations of the CNESST and its network.

The IRSST gives researchers new opportunities to involve themselves in interesting interdisciplinary efforts and to develop expertise in action-oriented research in tandem with the workplace community.

Aided by the IRSST, researchers can take advantage of:

  • the Institute’s research orientations and program, which are based on priorities established through analysis of workplace needs;
  • the creation of interdisciplinary teams comprised of researchers from the Institute and from its external network, primarily universities;
  • the Institute’s ties to the workplace community and to partners and associations involved in most of its research projects;
  • the assurance that research results will be transmitted to potential users;
  • grants awarded to promote the training of new occupational health and safety researchers;
  • the opportunity to share knowledge and expertise with the world’s leading occupational health and safety research centres;
  • visibility in the international scientific community.

Guiding Principles

The IRSST has set itself the goal of conducting and financing research that meet the needs of the CNESST, its own network, and the working community, which they may appropriate for their own uses.

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Research Ethics Committee

The IRSST’s Ethics Policy on Research Involving Humans is one of the tools the Institute and its staff have at their disposal to help them appropriately address the various dilemmas and concerns associated with research involving human subjects. The committee supports this process, and the researchers and the committee work together to ensure that each research project approved by the IRSST meets the highest ethical standards.

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