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Understanding Quebec's Health and Safety Requirements

New regulations as Bill 59 receives Assent

As an employer, you play an important role in preventing workplace injuries and promoting a safe and healthy workplace. In fact, in Quebec, under the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety (AOHS) and the Act respecting industrial accident and occupational diseases (AIAOD) as well as their various regulations, you have a legal obligation to properly inform, instruct and supervise your employees and to do everything you reasonably can to protect them.

Registering with the CNESST is mandatory!

We can never stress this enough: registering with the "Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail" (CNESST) is not an option! All companies with at least one full-time or part-time worker must register with the CNESST no later than 60 days following the first day that your first worker reports work.

To register, use one of these two methods:

  • Online
  • By telephone: 1.844.838.0808
An Act to modernize occupational health and safety (Bill 59)

On September 30, 2021, the Government of Québec adopted Bill 59, which aims to modernize occupational health and safety legislation. This is the most important modernization of the Act respecting occupational health and safety and the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases

The new requirements will be phased in over time until 2024. The first requirements will come into effect on April 6, 2022, and consist of the implementation of an interim prevention and participation plan. This plan allows you to prepare for the implementation of the prevention program or action plan.

The requirements differ depending on the size of your business and the priority group to which it belongs. If you are unsure of your requirements, the CNESST has put together this tool to help you (only available in French for now).

CFIB & LifeWorks tell you more about the impacts of the modernization of the CNESST regime in Quebec.

Prevention mechanisms according to priority groups - NEW!

Prevention mechanisms refer to the prevention program. An action plan will also have to be put in place at a later date. If your business is part of priority group 1, 2 or 3, you were already required to have a prevention program. You must therefore continue to fulfil this requirement for the time being. New requirements will come into force later. 

Businesses in priority groups 5, 4, and 6

If your business is part of priority group 4, 5 or 6, you must implement a prevention program by identifying and analyzing the risks to the health and safety of your workers. This requirement applies regardless of the size of your business. 

If your business has 20 or more workers, once the hazards have been identified, you must analyze them and prioritize them. The prioritization of hazards allows you to act quickly on the most urgent issues. It is important to document everything in writing. This documentation must be accessible at all times to: 

  • The members of the health and safety committee;
  • The health and safety representative;
  • Workers;

If your business has 19 or fewer workers, you have the same requirement as businesses with 20 or more workers. However, you do not have to prioritize the hazards. The documentation must also be always accessible to: 

  • The health and safety liaison officer;
  • Workers;

To help you identify and analyze hazards, the CNESST has useful information pages:

CFIB members can access our Prevention Program Template in the Member Portal The identification and analysis of the risks corresponds to the "Prevention Plan" page in the document. 
 Participation according to the size of the business - NEW!

Participation mechanisms allow for the involvement of workers. They refer to:

  • The health and safety committee 
  • The health and safety representative  
  • The health and safety liaison officer  

Businesses with 20 or more workers

If your business has 20 or more workers, regardless of priority groups, you must form a health and safety committee. The purpose of this committee is to participate in the identification and analysis of occupational health and safety hazards and to make recommendations to the employer. 

In order to determine the number of members in the committee, you must agree with your workers. If there is no agreement, the regulation applies (see article 4): 

  • from 20 to 50 workers: 2 representatives
  • from 51 to 100 workers: 3 representatives
  • from 101 to 500 workers: 4 representatives
  • from 501 to 1000 workers: 5 representatives
  • 1001 workers or more: 6 representatives

At least one representative must be appointed to act as an intermediary between the employees and the committee.

Businesses with fewer than 20 workers

If your business has 19 workers or less, a Health and Safety Liaison Officer must be appointed. Your workers must do this. 

Upcoming changes - NEW!

We will update this page organically to keep you informed of your obligations. For more details on upcoming dates, please visit the CNESST calendar:

If you have any questions about your requirements or would like our sample policy, please contact our business advisors at 1-833-568-2342.

How do I determine the number of employees in my business? - NEW!

To determine the number of workers in your business, you must include interns and "rented" or "loaned" employees (e.g., employees from an employment agency).

What if I have 20 or more employees for only part of the year? - NEW!

In order for the requirements of businesses with more than 20 employees to apply, you must have 20 or more employees for more than 21 days in the year. 

If during the year, the number of workers falls below 20, the OHS committee must be maintained at least until December 31 of that year.

What are the rules of the occupational health and safety committee? - NEW!

The rules of operation and the terms and conditions of the OHS Committee, including the minimum frequency of meetings, are determined by agreement between its members. Until an agreement is reached on the minimum frequency of meetings, the committee should hold one meeting per quarter, unless the regulations require them to be held more frequently. 

If the committee can’t agree on the frequency of meetings the minimum operating rules shall apply.

For the complete rules that apply to the committee: 

What are my obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Quebec?

Regardless of the size of your business or sector, your main obligation as an employer is to identify, control and eliminate any workplace hazards. In order to do so, you must:

  • Inform your employees of any job-related risks and provide appropriate training. It’s your responsibility to ensure your employees possess the skills and knowledge required to work safely.
  • Appoint qualified supervisor that will supervise the work of your employees and ensure adherence to your safety processes.
  • Maintain the safety of the equipment, tools and work methods in your facilities, and that these are properly used or adopted by your employees.
  • Supply adequate protective and safety equipment to your employees, free of charge and regardless of compensation, and see that it is kept in good condition.
  • Supervise the maintenance of the workplace, provide sanitary installations, drinking water, adequate lighting, ventilation and heating and see that meals are eaten in sanitary quarters at the workplace.

In order to comply with all those requirement, consider creating a health and safety committee overlooking your operation and making sure you are compliant. The committee will also be responsible to develop a prevention program.

Am I required to have a health and safety committee?

  • It is required if your business is in an industry belonging to a category identified by regulation and if you are employing more than 20 workers.

Am I required to have a prevention program?

  • It’s mandatory if you have an establishment belonging to a category described in Schedule 1 of the Regulation respecting prevention programs. 

Helpful resources:

CNESST provides you the following resources:

First-aid requirements:

Offer medical attention (First-aid) on site as per the First-aid Minimum Standards Regulation. In order to do so, you must:

  • Ensure that a minimum number of First-aid trained workers are available at all times on site during working hours.
  • Register your employees for First-aid training. CNESST is giving grant for the training under certain condition.
  • Provide enough First-aid kits in the workplace, making sure they are readily available and maintained (replacing used or outdated material accordingly).
  • Insert a copy of the Practical Guide for First Aiders in the Workplace in your First-aid kit.
  • Post in a conspicuous place a copy of the First-aid Poster and identify on it the family and given name of all First-aid trained workers, their job title, work location and the location of your First-aid kits. 
  • Maintain a log of workplace accidents. Every time a first aider gives First-aid to another worker, they must fill a report containing their name and that of the injured worker, and the time and description of the injury or sickness as well as the type of First-aid given and hand the report to the employer.

Requirements if you purchase, use or manufacture controlled products:

  • If you purchase, use or manufacture controlled products you are required to provide employees with Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMS) training.
  • Ensure that all controlled products (purchased, produced on site or decanted) are properly labeled.
  • Obtain updated material safety data sheets from the supplier or produce them themselves for the controlled products manufactured on site.
  • Collaborate in the development of a training and information program on the controlled products and ensure that it is updated annually.
  • Ensure that employees are trained and informed and that the acquired knowledge is put into practice.
  • Should you determine WHMIS training is needed, you and your staff can access free online training through your CFIB membership with VuBIZ.

Wait that’s not all! Here are some important things you should know that may require additional obligations:

Zero tolerance policy

Young workers

Pregnant employee

  • If one of your employee is pregnant, she could file for a preventive withdrawal if the work place is causing a danger to her pregnancy. Make sure to read our article on the topic to be prepared if the situation occur.

Psychological and sexual harassment

Workplace injuries

  • IMPORTANT: Even with the best effort put toward prevention, it is possible for workplace injuries to occur, so make sure you understand your obligations.

CFIB is here to help you!

In addition to health and safety requirements, there are several other compliance measures your business should be considering. You can always contact CFIB for further information, examples of a Health and Safety Policy, Emergency Communication Procedure, or more details on any Occupational Health and Safety issues at 1- 833-568-2342 or email us at