From the blog

New Rules for Asbestos Abatement in Canada

Published: June 9, 2023

Canada is creating new rules for asbestos abatement. The government in British Columbia is going to require that companies that perform asbestos abatement have licenses issued by the government for them to operate. The Canadian workers’ compensation statutory agency WorkSafeBC is creating the requirements for companies to be fully licensed to safely remove asbestos. Asbestos was banned in the country in 2018 but there is still legacy asbestos in older buildings, especially those built before 1982. Unions have been advocating for asbestos workers to undergo strict in person training before working with the substance. These new regulations will set the bar for Canada and could potentially help the United States as well.

Even though asbestos is heavily regulated and banned in Canada, many people in the country can still encounter the mineral while working. Construction workers for instance have to work with asbestos because asbestos was installed in older buildings. Many people claim that asbestos is safe once installed, but if it is disturbed or improperly handled, fibers can easily be inhaled and later cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other cancers. If asbestos is still around, people cannot be safe, especially in older buildings. Over the next 20 years, it is expected that many people will develop mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. These people have already been exposed to asbestos. It is now only a matter of time before these diseases develop.

It was found that 61 of 181 work related deaths in British Columbia occurred because of asbestos exposure. Data also shows that asbestos is the main cause of death for workers in British Columbia. The nature of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma means that people will still die from asbestos related diseases because they have already been exposed. WorkSafeBC inspected 1,238 worksites, handed out 1,318 orders, and ordered 242 firms to stop work due to asbestos issues.

Asbestos exposure is a massive problem for Canada, the United States, and other countries. Asbestos is made up of millions of microscopic fibers that once inhaled, cannot be broken down or removed by the body. This is what makes the substance so dangerous. The body not being able to remove asbestos fibers means that they sit in the body for decades. Over time, the fibers cause DNA changes in cells, turning them into cancer cells. Legacy asbestos is a massive problem for the world, so countries need to fix the problem to ensure the health and safety of workers and other populations.

Zac Vescera, “BC to tackle asbestos, the deadliest workplace killer” The Safety Mag (May 9, 2023). [Link]
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