As we’ve covered extensively on our blog, Canada will be implementing a comprehensive nationwide ban on asbestos next year. Lobbyists all over the country have long petitioned for the toxic substance to be outlawed. For reasons that not many know, short of economic gain (read: greed at the expense of the nation’s health), asbestos continues to be imported into Canada in such products such as brake pads.
Prior to the 1990s, however, asbestos was a staple in the construction of homes and office building, primarily for its insulating abilities. Renovations of any such buildings threaten to send asbestos fibres airborne. These fibres are well known for getting trapped in the lungs of anyone who is exposed to them. Thus, deadly lung diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis have taken the lives of thousands of Canadians.
Yes, a ban is coming. But that doesn’t prevent the numerous buildings across Canada that are already asbestos-laden from threatening the health of those who enter them. Such is the case in northwest Edmonton where the New West Hotel is currently undergoing an investigation due to the mishandling of asbestos removal during recent renovations.
According to a recent CBC News report by Scott Stevenson, the hotel’s employees have reported the potential of asbestos exposure since no asbestos testing was done prior to the construction work. Stevenson notes that in spite of a stop-work order issued by Occupational Health and Safety, construction at the hotel continues. The hotel, in fact, has received two stop-work orders.
Stevenson reveals that Alberta Labour has confirmed that a stop-work order was issued to the hotel on July 5th. The order was lifted August 18th after tests confirmed the presence of asbestos, however, another stop-work order was issued on the 23rd because of ventilation issues. Clearly, there are unsafe working conditions at the New West Hotel – a business that has been operational since 1954.
Rebecca Grant, a 31 year-old mother of two, used to work there as a housekeeper. She spoke to CBC News and admitted that she became concerned for her health and quit her job, as a result. “They kept busting drywall after the stop-work order was in place,” she is quoted as saying, “It was my job to clean the rooms they had renovated.” Grant goes on to describe the hotel as “disorganized, unhealthy, and unsafe” during the renovation process.
She didn’t just quit her job on suspicion of asbestos exposure. She was beginning to feel the symptoms. An asthma sufferer, Grant felt her job was not worth the risk to her health. “It was making me sick,” she told CBC News, “I’d go into work and I’d have a really hard time breathing as soon as I hit the upstairs. I have asthma. So I decided I had to quit because of the work conditions. I mean, you could see the shiny, crystallized dust particles in the air.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we strongly advocate for safe working environments for all Canadians. 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.