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WorkSafeBC warning homeowners about the dangers of asbestos

Published on: October 16, 2017

Richmond, B.C. — WorkSafeBC is urging owners of pre-1990s homes to talk to their contractor about asbestos before starting home renovations or a demolition.

"Asbestos is safe if left alone, but if disturbed it can cause serious health problems and even death," said Al Johnson, Vice-President of Prevention Services for WorkSafeBC. "Today, the most common way to be exposed to asbestos is by unsafe practices during demolition and renovation of homes and buildings."

Asbestos can be found in more than 3,000 different building materials used in homes built before 1990. It’s colourless, odourless and deadly when disturbed.

"Over the past decades, the dangers of asbestos exposure have become alarmingly evident, and I commend WorkSafeBC for continuing to raise awareness of this danger — not only in the workplace, but in our homes as well," said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. "WorkSafeBC is part of a provincial working group, led by the Ministry of Labour, which is currently reviewing what can be done to better protect people and the environment from asbestos."

Contractors are responsible for protecting their workers from asbestos exposure, and homeowners planning to renovate or demolish their home have a responsibility too.

"If renovating or demolishing a pre-1990s home, talk to your contractor and budget for asbestos testing and removal," said Johnson. "Identifying and removing asbestos may cost more in the short term, but it is the right thing to do and will ensure the health and safety of everyone living or working on the property."

Asbestos is the number-one killer of workers in B.C. and the rate of asbestos-related disease is on the rise. That’s why WorkSafeBC is launching an awareness campaign this month targeted to owners of pre-1990 homes. This campaign follows and builds on an asbestos awareness initiative targeted to contractors this past summer. More information can be found at:

Key Facts:

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was used in more than 3,000 building materials from the 1950s to the 1990s. Some common asbestos-containing materials include:
    • Vinyl tiles and linoleum sheet flooring
    • Roof felt and shingles
    • Loose, blown-in insulation, such as vermiculite
    • Stucco
    • Pipe insulation
    • Gypsum board filling compound, and patching and joint compound for walls and ceilings
    • Incandescent light fixture backing
    • Deck undersheeting
  • From 2007 to 2016, 605 workers died in B.C. from diseases related to asbestos exposure.
  • In 2016 alone, 85 work-related deaths resulted from an occupational disease.


Trish Knight Chernecki
Media Relations, WorkSafeBC
Tel: 604.232.5814
Cell: 778.871.5841