Asbestos Related Regulatory Changes

17th February 2022

The government of Canada has announced asbestos related regulatory changes around who can handle asbestos.  New standards will be introduced into the Workers Compensation Act to provide mandatory requirements for assessing, removing, repairing, transporting and disposing of materials that may contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a term used to describe a group of naturally occurring fibrous material silicates which can become airborne and be inhaled making their way into various areas of the lungs.  Exposure to asbestos has been known to cause a range of health issues from lung disease, reduced respiratory function, and forms of cancer.  It can be found in a number of materials used in constructing buildings and is most common in structures built prior to 1990.

Potential asbestos containing buildingGeneral Asbestos Regulatory Requirements

In British Columbia asbestos, and other building related hazards such as lead, silica, and mercury have regulatory requirements for eliminating or reducing exposure to these materials.  For asbestos key regulatory requirements include:

  • Assessing the risk of asbestos on the premises
  • An inventory where asbestos is expected to be present
  • An exposure control plan where asbestos is or may be disturbed causing a potentially harmful level of exposure
  • Safe work procedures to manage release of asbestos fibers

The above requirements touch on some of the current requirements for managing asbestos.

Current Training Requirements

Current regulatory training requirements in B.C. indicate:

OHSR Part 6.11 Instruction and training

The employer must ensure that a worker who is at risk of exposure to asbestos is adequately instructed and trained in

(a) the hazards of asbestos,

(b) the means of identifying asbestos-containing material at the worksite,

(c) the work procedures to be followed,

(d) the correct use of the required personal protective equipment, and operation of the required engineering controls, and

Expected Changes

The additional asbestos related regulatory changes around asbestos training are aimed at asbestos abatement workers. In 2018 almost 50% of asbestos related inspections resulted in compliance orders, and since 2000 asbestos has been a leading cause of occupational disease (50%) and work related deaths (33%).  These statistics indicate improvements were required.

The training is expected to require workers who manage asbestos to undertake WorkSafe BC approved asbestos management training which will license who is able to perform this work.  WorkSafe BC will is expected to develop and authorize a mandatory training process for these workers.

Consultation and Additional Information

Chrysotile asbestos The province requested those with a vested interest in these asbestos related regulatory changes to participate in a consultation process which will ran up to Friday, Feb. 11.   More information on the consultation process can be found here.  Additional links to asbestos related resources are outlined below:

 


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