Paper: OHS policy, politics and structures in Québec: Effects on interventions in small workplaces

Author(s) and Affiliation(s):
D. Champoux, Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail, Montréal, Québec, Canada
J.-P. Brun, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Day/Time: Friday at 13:30
Room: Ballroom, 2nd Floor

- Fight invisibility of small businesses (SBs) in Québec OHS institutions, as there are no OHS statistics according to workplace size.
- Complement recent Québec research results where OHS practitioners reveal high level of risk in SBs, ineffectiveness of prevention approaches, and absence of formal recognition by institutions.
- Interview various stakeholders to link SB situation with broader issues about OHS policies, structures, resources and interventions.


Secondary analysis of inquiries made by the compensation board into serious and fatal accidents was used to produce an original portrait of risk in small workplaces. Data obtained via 18 semi-directed individual interviews with policy-makers, senior management of OHS institutions, employers' associations and unions, public service organizations and researchers was subjected to qualitative analysis. Official documentation, annual reports, interviews, publications were also used.


Differences between the social and economic context at the time of policy implementation and now are perceptible in the change in public discourse and in the broad orientations of the OHS system. Legislation, enacted without the participation of SB representatives, is geared to large businesses’ capacities and resources. The system has slowly shifted from a human rights approach to an auto-regulation and insurance approach.The bipartite structure has been paralyzed by permanent political conflict which is proving especially detrimental to adaptation of prevention and intervention approaches and resources to the new work environment and to SB needs in particular. In-depth inquiries point to over-representation of small workplaces employees among serious and fatal accidents.


SBs are disadvantaged within the Quebec OHS system because of their invisibility and because legislation and intervention are geared to large businesses. Results reveal crisis within the whole OHS system in Québec. The situation affects SBs in a particular way, as they receive a smaller share of OHS services, even though results on risk level concord with the opinions of safety practitioners and with international literature. The SB situation stresses the need for broad debate about government's role and the implementation of legislation and institutional orientations.