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New Safety Rules for Those Working with Asbestos

New rules for those in British Columbia working with asbestos.

Moving forward, the BC government is requiring BCers who work with asbestos to complete mandatory training and certification. This applies to those who assess, remove, repair, transport, or dispose of the mineral. They say there is significant risk for those workers involved in the renovation or demolition of older buildings.

“Asbestos is a silent killer and its terrible effects often don’t show for years after exposure,” says BC’s Minister of Labour Harry Bains. “There were 280 deaths from asbestos exposure over the past five years alone. The changes we are bringing in will address this by creating better safety standards for asbestos abatement contractors and ensuring all their workers are properly trained and certified.”

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The naturally occurring mineral, which was widely used in construction until the late-1980s, was a contributing factor in 53 of 161 workplace deaths. Since 2000, asbestos has been the cause of about half of all work-related occupational disease deaths, and a third of all work-related deaths.

The material is found in older drywall, insulation, car and brake pads, and other construction materials. It becomes dangerous after it’s disturbed and releases dust or fibres into the air and ingested or inhaled.

The changes in legislation are in response to a report from the government’s asbestos working group, which said more can be done to protect people from the dangers of the mineral.

“Asbestos is the number one killer of B.C. workers, and these measures are going to save lives,” says Laird Cronk, President of the BC Federation of Labour. “We’ve been saying for years that licensing, training and enforcement are crucial to preventing further exposures and more deaths. It’s good to see government taking action to protect people from this insidious, lethal substance and leading the country in licensing.”

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