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

Sustainable Prevention and Work Environment

Sustainable Prevention and Work Environment

In today’s context of economic globalization and changing industrial and demographic structures, Québec workers and enterprises are grappling with radical transformations in the work world.

Whether it’s changing markets, the shifting of jobs from a manufacturing to service sector, or the contribution of new technologies, these are all factors that can impact on occupational health and safety (OHS). Their multifactorial nature requires us to take a broader look at work activities and the work environment if we are to understand their effects on health and safety. Given their potentially negative effects, they also require us to look for preventive measures.

While the emphasis is on the sustainable prevention of OHS problems, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the aim of the Sustainable Prevention and Work Environment research field is also to enhance understanding of the social, demographic, organizational and technological factors that impact the occurrence of work-related injuries. The research results obtained support the development of approaches and tools that facilitate workplace management of prevention.

Research orientations

The research activities conducted under the SPWE field revolve around the three following orientations:

  • Analysis of the impacts of organizational, demographic, and technological changes within enterprises, on occupational health and safety
  • Development and application of measurement methods and evaluation tools (measurement of exposure and of risk and protection factors; activity analysis; surveys, and data collection tools)
  • Interventions pertinent to, and management of, OHS problems (case management process and tools, integration of OHS into design, adjustment of work situations)

Research program

The Sustainable Prevention and Work Environment (SPWE) research program is the result of in-depth reflection by members of the SPWE team, in conjunction with the Scientific Division and in line with the 2018-2022 five-year scientific and technical production plan, as well as the IRSST’s work of the past few years. Its aim is to find increasingly pertinent ways of addressing workplace needs. Thirteen themes are given priority:

The main aim of this theme is to improve understanding of the OHS issues associated with the dynamics of cohabitation and to identify the facilitators and resources needed to foster the sustainable prevention of occupational injuries in these particular contexts.

This theme is aimed at documenting the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on work, particularly the emergence or reduction of risks. It also seeks to support and assist workplaces in integrating new technologies.

The aim of this theme is to document the OHS issues in the service sector and to identify the resources and organizational factors fostering sustainable prevention.

This theme is aimed at developing methods for evaluating physical demands in order to measure worker exposure to MSD risks. It also focuses on designing tools that can be used to assess psychosocial risks and that take the worker’s activity into account.

The aim of this theme is to develop adapted methods and tools for evaluating complex interventions, and thus produce knowledge on the implementation conditions, effects and success factors likely to facilitate transfer to other workplaces.

The aim of this theme is to improve understanding of the issues related to the changing OHS culture in workplaces and to develop winning practices that support sustainable development in companies.

This theme is aimed at documenting and improving understanding of the factors that facilitate the sustainable job retention of older workers before occupational injuries occur.

The aims of the work carried out under this theme are to study the organizational factors and resources that support the development of OHS competencies and to foster the transmission of knowledge from experienced workers to new workers.

The studies related to this thematic program focus on integrated prevention in small enterprises (SEs). As these studies target prevention and return-to-work objectives simultaneously, the program is carried out in collaboration with the Occupational Rehabilitation research field.

This thematic program studies the integration of young workers into the labour market and the issue of OHS. The work carried out is making full use of the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.

The aim of this program is to improve understanding of the determinants of work-related road accidents (WRRAs), document the risks, and develop, implement and evaluate intervention and sustainable prevention strategies.

This thematic program focuses on training as a means of encouraging prevention and actions for transforming the determinants of work situations. Biomechanical and ergonomic studies develop new prevention approaches, follow up on their application in the workplace, and evaluate their effects.

To help companies prevent MSDs in the office automation context, this thematic program is aimed at documenting promising practices implemented in workplaces, developing best practices guides, and evaluating their effectiveness.

Concret results

Technical Fact Sheet

OHS in vocational training centres

This guide provides knowledge and courses of action for developing OHS in vocational training centres, and may be useful for college-level technical programs. The core of the document consists of four fact sheets corresponding to the four aspects of prevention that should be taken into account to ensure sustainable OHS

(In French only).

SST dans les centres de formation professionnelle

Multiple Tools

Formation of a training committee on the handling of difficult calls

The desire to properly equip 911 emergency call centre (ECC) agents to handle difficult calls originated with the IRSST’s work. Representatives of this sector proposed creating a structure for producing training material on the handling of difficult calls specifically for these agents.

CU 9-1-1

Awareness-Raising Document

The work of emergency medical technician-paramedics: Understanding the risks in order to prevent musculoskeletal disorders

This document is designed to raise awareness among the concerned parties of the MSD risks associated with the job of emergency medical technician-paramedic, and to encourage the development and implementation of various means of prevention. It is also designed to improve training and professional development activities. The tool offers possible prevention strategies for reducing the frequency and severity of MSDs.


Awareness-Raising Document

Floor covering installers and OHS: the voice of experienced workers

This video gives a voice to resilient-floor covering installers and to a teacher in this field. Supported by images of work situations, they explain the health and safety risks inherent to their work, propose solutions, and stress the importance of training.

(In French only)


Poseurs de revêtements souples

Awareness-Raising Document

Mining companies: the safe integration of new workers

Produced at the request of the Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur minier (APSM, or joint sector-based OHS association for the mining industry), this self-diagnostic tool provides food for thought regarding the integration of new employees in companies. Using questions about the goals, process and actors involved in integration, this interactive PDF document enables the user to take stock of the conditions promoting new worker integration and to target priorities for action with a view to continuous improvement. The document is associated with a practical pamphlet illustrating the various steps in the new worker integration process.


Technical Fact Sheet

Planning Tool for Safe Manual Handling

This tool will help managers and employees gain a better understanding of the nature and complexity of handling situations and identify musculoskeletal disorder risks. It consists of five worksheets that can also help in targeting handling situations that need to be changed and in planning customized training in safe manual handling.

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Scientifics of this field