Occupational Health and Safety: Our Experts Share Their Views

On April 28, 1991, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) declared a National Day of Mourning dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job or due to a work-related tragedy. Thirty years later, as workers face a new threat ─ invisible, unfortunately ─, we wanted you to hear from two longstanding accident-prevention experts and initiators of our five‑year excellence program in OHS.

Jean Ouellet: making prevention a value

An accident-prevention and OHS specialist since the late 1980s, Jean Ouellet joined Beaudoin’s team in June 2016. In addition to working as Prevention Officer at the City of Gatineau’s wastewater treatment plant, Jean is currently leading the company’s OHS committee activities, performs on-site conformity verification visits, and acts as a consultant in the creation of OHS exemplary practices. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, this natural-born ─ and trained ─ conformist practices due diligence at the office as on construction sites.

His track record in a few words: 33 years of combined experience as an OHS Advisor, Coordinator, Director, and Safety Officer, notably in the forest products sector.

A significant achievement: “Having considerably reduced the paperwork related to public health verification records (we’re in the middle of a pandemic, remember) through a QR code and a digital form.”

His catchphrase with regards to OHS: “In the past, we tended to see OHS as a simple priority. We need to and make it a central value. Priorities can switch rank depending on circumstances and unforeseen events. A value, however, is at the heart of all our actions. OHS must be an integral part of the way we manage projects, and not only of the way we perform them.”

His views on COVID-19: “This is one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever had to face in my career. Reassuring people is part of my role. I must also justify my instructions (especially to members of the younger generation) and leverage each and everyone’s deeper motivations to fulfill my due diligence obligations.”

His wish on April 28, 2021: “Since Beaudoin has started to integrate an OHS management structure a few years ago, I have witnessed a significant culture change. Let’s say that metal railings anchored in the ground have replaced temporary gates and that workers are increasingly proactive when it comes to ensuring their personal safety. It is not easy to change course in the middle of a storm, but Beaudoin is succeeding. I wish to see this evolution continue.”


Robert Gagné: aligning management with prevention

Robert Gagné joined Beaudoin’s team in September 2020 as OHS Prevention Officer. He was first appointed to the British Square apartment complex, in Old-Aylmer, but his role now goes beyond this ambitious project. By recruiting this high-calibre expert, Beaudoin had another goal in mind: to re‑examine and perfect its OHS management practices.

His track record in a few words: 37 years of experience in construction, including 22 in SST gained in the commercial, industrial, manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction sectors across the country.

A significant achievement: “Having successfully coached 5 businesses and helped them achieve various health, safety, and environmental ISO certifications.”

A key affiliation: As an expert on ISO 45001 standard, related to OHS, Robert is an advisory member of the CSA Testing & Certification Group.

His catchphrase with regards to OHS: “Whether we are talking accounting, operations, human resources, or health and safety, we need to be proactive, not reactive. What does that mean? Bringing ALL stakeholders around the same table upstream, even before we present a submission, to that we can define our needs clearly at all levels.”

His view on COVID-19: “Cleanliness continues to pose a challenge on construction sites, so imposing strict hygiene regulations there is extremely difficult. When we talk about railings, we can rely on official norms. As for masks, however, it is far from clear. We cannot impose new measures systematically, especially if wearing a mask impairs visibility when performing specific tasks.”

His wish on April 28, 2021: “First, I would like to see more knowledge sharing on innovation. I preside over 7 OHS advisory committees, and what is currently missing is an open communication, not only among competitors, but also between countries. Also, our accident prevention actions must become unconscious reflexes.”


With the collaboration of Jean Ouellet and Robert Gagné