Asbestos Planned Inspectional Initiative (Commercial Properties)
Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable, yet exposure to asbestos remains the leading cause of work-related deaths in British Columbia. As part of on-going efforts to address this problem, WorkSafeBC will continue with an enforcement initiative aimed at reducing exposure to asbestos during cleaning, maintenance, repair, and renovation work in commercial buildings.
People who work in proximity to asbestos-containing materials in commercial buildings — such as professional buildings, office buildings, and shopping centres — may face a risk of exposure when their activities disturb asbestos containing materials such as drywall, flooring, ceilings, insulating materials, and block walls containing vermiculite.
The goals of the Asbestos Planned Inspectional Initiative (Commercial Properties) are to:
- Ensure commercial property owners, their agents, property management employers, and prime contractors understand their obligations and duties under the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation with respect to asbestos management in their commercial buildings
- Ensure that effective asbestos management plans (for employees, contractors, and tenants) are implemented, and that these plans consider the potential for worker exposure to asbestos
- Assess and develop knowledge of workplace parties related to the potential hazards of asbestos exposure
- Ensure workers are familiar with and follow exposure control plans, including reporting of any unsafe conditions
2023 inspectional approach
For 2023 inspections, prevention officers will take a risk-based approach to ensure that the most significant risks are effectively managed. This approach involves workers and employers identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and implementing the appropriate controls specific to the on-site activities. In addition, it focuses on employers ensuring these efforts are effectively communicated to workers and monitored through foundational occupational health and safety systems such as new and young worker orientations, training, supervision, incident investigations, worksite inspections, and (where applicable) joint health and safety committees that are effective, robust, and well supported.
WorkSafeBC prevention officers will:
- Engage directly with commercial property owners and building management employers to confirm the establishment of asbestos management plans, which will in turn affect contractors and workers who perform cleaning, maintenance, repair, and renovation work on these buildings
- Focus on the identification, assessment, and control of asbestos in commercial buildings
- Assess the effectiveness of asbestos hazard-related communication, reporting of hazards, and the coordination of asbestos-related work activities
- Continue engaging with property management firms that manage multi-family residential buildings (i.e., strata corporations) to ensure compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and OHS Regulation
What you can do
Our Asbestos pages provide resources and information on how to understand and address some of the health and safety issues to focus on in your industry.
The provincial government has made amendments to the Workers Compensation Act that establish requirements that asbestos abatement contractors must be licensed to operate in British Columbia, and that workers who perform this work must complete mandatory safety training and obtain certificates. Learn more about these requirements.