Workplace wellness

13 September 2022

4 min.

Health and safety at work: what you need to know about Bill 59

Bill 59, adopted by the Quebec government on September 30, 2021, aims to modernize the occupational health and safety regime. It was an eagerly awaited bill, as there have been no major reforms in this area for nearly 35 years. Yet, in 2019, there were 107,000 occupational injuries and 260 work accidents per day.

What is Bill 59?

The aim of Bill 59 is thus to encourage accident prevention and create safer working environments by focusing on the development of a strong prevention culture in each company.

As part of this project, two labour laws were updated:

  • the Act respecting occupational health and safety
  • the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases


What impacts of Bill 59 on organizations piqued our curiosity at Boostalab?

Bill 59 brings many changes concerning occupational health and safety. Some of these affect all organizations, while others are aimed at a more targeted clientele such as employment agencies, building owners, or organizations with fewer than 20 employees. In addition, some measures have already come into force, while others will come into force later.

The CNESST website allows you to follow all the measures as well as the dates of application.

Among the many measures in Bill 59, there are two that we would like to highlight in particular.

Health and safety in remote work

Since the pandemic, many people work from home. The law has therefore been adjusted to this new context to provide a framework for their health and safety.

In this respect, it is now clearly stipulated that the employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of the remote worker’s environment by means, for example, of an ergonomic assessment of the workstations.

This is information that should not be overlooked, as remote work is now part of the working population’s expectations!

Even if it is not clearly stated in the law, it is also important to ensure that remote staff do not feel isolated and that measures are taken to support their psychological health. There are good practices you can put in place to promote, for example, psychological proximity within the teams.

Addition of psychosocial risks

Bill 59 also puts the emphasis on psychosocial risks, an aspect that was entirely overlooked by the previous measures.

Psychosocial risks include factors related to work organization, management practices, employment conditions, and social relations that increase the likelihood of harmful effects on the physical and psychological health of those exposed.

In other words, Bill 59 seeks to highlight all risks related to the psychological and mental health of workers, and this is excellent news!

With these new adjustments, employers will now have a duty to conduct a risk analysis and to implement prevention activities with respect to these psychosocial risks.

Psychosocial risks: how to recognize and prevent them?

What are psychosocial risks?

Psychosocial risks can take different forms related to the nature of work, work organization, and social factors. Here are some examples:

  • Inadequate workload
  • Lack of decision-making autonomy
  • Lack of recognition or social support from superiors and/or colleagues
  • Ambiguous roles
  • High work pace
  • Complex tasks
  • Inadequate training
  • Psychological harassment
  • Disrespect or incivility
  • Exposure to traumatic events
  • Violence (this can also cover domestic, family, or sexual violence)…

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other situations involving mental health and psychological health issues, which is why it is important to keep an eye out for unusual signs or behaviour. Rest assured, the more you pay attention, the better you’ll be able to detect them.

How to prevent psychosocial risks?

As they always say: better safe than sorry! While it is indeed important and mandatory to have an action plan in case a problem arises, acting upstream by educating and developing the relational skills of the members of the organization is an even more effective way to guard against this type of issue.

By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each person, by planning and organizing work to promote both wellbeing and performance, and by raising awareness of fair and equitable management and collaboration practices, you can move your organization towards a healthier culture that is less prone to psychosocial risks. And that is the best action plan you can put in place for the health and safety of your teams!

Finally, when you raise the awareness of both managers and their teams, the impact is multiplied!