WorkSafeBC is ramping up efforts to enforce compliance with safety measures, as deaths from asbestos exposure continues to rise.

WorkSafeBC is ramping up efforts to enforce compliance with safety measures, as deaths from asbestos exposure continues to rise.

WorkSafeBC calls on construction industry to protect its workers

Asbestos-related deaths and diseases climbing as contractors fail to keep workers safe

Asbestos is the top killer of construction workers in B.C., yet companies continue to ignore safety measures that could protect their workers.

So, WorkSafeBC is ramping up its efforts to clamp down on contractors.

Something has to get through to employers, they say. They’ve been working hard to hand out consequences to companies that don’t follow the rules.

Already this year, they’ve issued more asbestos-related stop-work orders and fines than in all of 2016.

While the effects of asbestos aren’t seen in workers for years, those stop-work orders hit companies in the pocketbook, resulting in lost hours, missed construction deadlines, and even cancelled projects.

The end goal is to stop exposing construction and demolition workers to the deadly substance asbestos. It can be potentially found in more than 3,000 building materials in homes built before 1990. While it’s generally considered to be safe if left undisturbed, it is released into the air when the materials are drilled, sawed, sanded or broken up during renos or demos.

Workers can breathe in asbestos fibres if they are not protected.

If workers breathe in enough asbestos, their lungs can be permanently damaged or result in death.

There is a long latency period (10 to 40 years on average) between the time a worker breathes in asbestos fibres and when a disease can develop. WorkSafeBC says that in the 10 years from 2007 to 2016, 605 B.C. workers have died from asbestos-related diseases.

According to Al Johnson, vice-president of prevention services, some building contractors are not only risking their workers’ health but risking the future of their businesses. If word gets out that a contractor has cut corners and doesn’t take asbestos seriously, it can do significant harm to their professional reputation.

They’ve sent out a direct mailer to 14,500 construction contractors, to drive home the message. They’ve also created a video for employees and employers to spread awareness of the risks, called Asbestos: Why Risk It?

It tells construction employers: “Identify asbestos properly, remove it safely and follow safe work procedures. Do your job, do it right, and protect everyone from the dangers of asbestos.”

They’ve also created a video to explain what asbestos is and where it can lurking in older homes.

WorkSafeBC publishes an entire toolkit for employers regarding asbestos abatement, at their website www.worksafebc.com/asbestos. They have been sounding the alarm on asbestos for the past few years now, following a marked surge in asbestos-related diseases and deaths in older workers.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The spectacular Okanagan Rail Trail from Coldstream. (Linda Busch photo)
Get Outdoors! And explore North Okanagan trails

But, remember to uphold good trail etiquette

A Vernon councillor is facing potential legal action from a former city councillor. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Diversity debate leaves Vernon politician threatened with legal action

Coun. Dalvir Nahal alleged to have defamed a former politician, who is seeking concessions

District of Coldstream municipal offices. (Morning Star file photo)
Coldstream staff recommend cutting outdated, conflicting policies

A staff report also calls for Kal Lak access protections in the next Official Community Plan

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The. B.C. Court of Appeal granted a retrial to former Vernon man William Schneider, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of Japanese exchange student Natsumi Kogawa. The trial is set to begin May 24, 2022. (Vancouver Police Department photo)
Retrial date set for former Vernon man’s murder conviction

William Schneider’s trial, connected to the death of Natsumi Kogawa, is set for May 2022

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Most Read