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Asbestos Initiative: Residential Enforcement

As part of the 2019 occupational disease strategy, WorkSafeBC is conducting an enforcement initiative aimed at reducing occupational disease and death caused by exposure to asbestos in residential demolition and renovation worksites. Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable, yet asbestos remains the leading cause of work-related deaths in British Columbia.

With proper planning and oversight of work, employers in the residential demolition and renovation industry can reduce or eliminate the risk of worker exposure to asbestos fibres.

Goals

The goals of the 2018–2020 Asbestos Initiative: Residential Enforcement are to:

  • Prevent further exposure to asbestos
  • Ensure demolition contractors have adequate plans and are overseeing their work to meet health and safety obligations. This includes:
    • Conducting high quality reviews of all hazardous materials documentation
    • Conducting thorough pre-demolition visual inspections to ensure that hazardous materials are removed
    • Ensuring workers are educated and trained in asbestos awareness and understand their responsibilities

Approaches

  • A two-phased inspection/outreach approach where officers undertake prevention activities (i.e., inspections, consultation, and education) with demolition contractors working at residential demolition and renovation worksites
  • Develop and implement outreach and communication programs in support of the strategic focus areas
  • Develop and deliver associated tools and resources for officers, employers, supervisors, and workers
  • Collaborate with key industry stakeholders on targeted initiatives, and deliver key messaging and education to employers and workers
  • Collaborate with WorkSafeBC internal stakeholders

2019 additional focus

When we developed the 2018–2020 initiative, we recognized that within the three-year timeframe we would need to retain flexibility to add additional focus areas. In 2019, we will engage with demolition contractors through planned inspections. This will allow officers to provide more detailed information and to assess an employer’s systems without the usual time constraints of an active demolition scenario.

The findings of the phase 2 inspection will help measure the level of compliance, as well as evaluate whether the systems reviewed in phase 1 have been implemented and are used in practice.

Deliverables and timelines

Activities Details
Planned inspections of residential demolition and renovation sites
Q1–Q4 2019
  • Phase 1 - Conduct planned inspections at the head offices (where possible) of demolition contractors to provide information and assess their systems for compliance with respect to hazardous materials
  • Phase 2 – Conduct site inspections (targeting active demolitions) to determine if the demolition contractors inspected in phase 1 are in compliance with regulatory requirements

Updates and results

As part of our strategic initiative to develop measures to assess the effectiveness of prevention activities, we are providing updates of our High Risk Strategies and Industry Initiatives.

Note: To save space in bulleted lists, our update documents may refer to occupational health and safety as OHS. All references to the Act, refer to Part Three of the Workers Compensation Act. Penalties and warning letters reported in updates may have been initiated by inspections in a previous quarter.

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