In last week’s blog, we revisited the topic of asbestos and pointed out that, in spite of Canada’s soon-to-be-enforced nationwide ban, the substance continues to wreak havoc on our health. We highlighted the fact that asbestos not only has long-lasting health implications but that exposure to the toxic material can come by way of a secondhand nature.
Many Canadians have endured respiratory complications because their family members have come home from work with asbestos fibres attached to their clothing. And, sadly, this still seems to be the case. Just yesterday, Jeremy Shepherd of North Shore News reported that asbestos-related work site violations are on the rise. According to WorkSafeBC, there have been more asbestos-related stop work orders and fines in the first eight months of 2017 than in all of 2016.
“More than 600 British Columbian workers died from asbestos-related disease in the past decade,” writes Shepherd, referring to comments made by WorkSafeBC vice-president Al Johnson, “In 2016, more than one-third of the 164 construction deaths in B.C. stemmed from asbestos-related illness. Asbestos is set to be banned in Canada in 2018 but workers still face exposure as escalating property values have triggered a rash in home demolitions.”
Shepherd reminds us that before 1990, many homes were built using asbestos-laden building materials. It was also commonly used as an insulation source. He also notes that asbestos was sprayed on many of the beams that supported buildings erected in the 1960s and ’70s. “The prevalence in asbestos resulted in many workers suffering scarring of the lungs as well as mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop as late as 40 years after asbestos exposure,” Shepherd informs.
Naturally, demolitions of homes constructed with asbestos leave workers highly susceptible to asbestos exposure. And this is happening with increased frequency in British Columbia. As a result, WorkSafeBC has been handing out fines at higher rates this year.
“WorkSafeBC levelled a $3,959 fine on Living Balance International Trading Ltd. in July during a North Vancouver demolition job,” reports Shepherd, “The penalty came after a report revealed asbestos-containing materials where labourers had already begun work. The firm also failed to inspect the site to identify hazardous materials before beginning demolition, according to WorkSafeBC.”
Johnson asserts that the fines are intended to encourage business owners to take the proper precautions before going ahead with home demolitions. Removing all asbestos from the building prior to its demolition is one such precaution that seems to be neglected by far too many companies and contractors. Johnson urges workers to report if they are being made to work in unsafe conditions.
“Not only is it a right, it’s a responsibility to refuse unsafe work,” Johnson is quoted as saying. Shepherd explains that British Columbia workers who see serious injuries, chemical releases or general unsafe conditions, should call WorkSafeBC at 604-276-3100. “Workers have the option to remain anonymous,” he affirms, “WorkSafeBC also provides safeguards to ensure whistleblowers aren’t treated unfairly.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we have made it pretty clear that we strongly support safeguards against asbestos exposure. For more information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.