BC government releases asbestos exposure report

For information only and not an endorsement – this article is shared to ensure members have the context and understanding of current issues that impact the Construction Industry.

Journal of Commerce News Service  | January 3, 2019

B.C. government releases asbestos exposure report

VICTORIA — The Government of British Columbia has released a report with a wide range of recommendations on how to avoid asbestos exposure.

The report, Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe from Asbestos, was prepared by a working group led by the Ministry of Labour and included the ministries of environment and energy, health and municipal affairs and housing as well as WorkSafeBC.

Input was gathered from the construction industry, contractors, workers and employers, homeowners, local governments and union locals.

“We need to do more to keep people and our environment safe from the deadly consequences of exposure to asbestos,” said B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains in a statement.

“There’s a wide range of actions we can take to improve how asbestos is handled and disposed of in B.C. that will better protect workers and citizens, and I look forward to hearing from people what we should prioritize.”

The government is asking for further public feedback until Feb. 15, specifically on options for increasing material disposal capacity; the possibility of a licensing or certification requirement for consultants, surveyors and contractors; opportunities to create an incentive-based program for safe asbestos removal practices from buildings; and opinions on a provincially recognized set of standards and programs for training asbestos abatement workers.

“We were pleased to participate in the provincial government’s cross-ministry working group on asbestos. Asbestos is the number one killer of workers in B.C. and preventing exposure to asbestos is a top priority for WorkSafeBC. The report has just been released for consultation and input, and we look forward to seeing the results of this feedback,” said Craig Fitzsimmons, WorkSafeBC director of government, community and media relations.

Between 2008 and 2017, 617 workers have died from asbestos-related occupational diseases, primarily from workplace exposure 20 or more years ago when asbestos was still in use as a building material. Since 2000, more workers have died from asbestos-related occupational diseases than any other workplace injury.

The report is available for feedback at engage.gov.bc.ca.