Article from the OH&S Canada magazine (July/August 2017) by Jeff Cottrill
The federal government has lowered the acceptable level of workplace exposure to airborne crisis tile asbestos two is close to zero as possible. The move was effective immediately, according to a statement that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) issued on July 12, 2017.
According to Patty Hajdu, the federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the lower threshold will minimize the risk of workers contacting airborne asbestos fibers and align Canada’s national standard with those of individual provinces and territories. The new limit is also more consistent with international standards.
“Every employee has the right to a safe workplace,” Hajdu says. “I am proud to be announcing these long overdue regulatory changes on asbestos, a key element of our government’s comprehensive ban.”
The move is part of the federal government’s ongoing strategy to ban all asbestos and asbestos-containing products by next year (2018). Canada’s OH&S regulations require exposure to airborne asbestos to follow the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit of 0.1 fibre per cubic centimetre, according to a backgrounder on the ESDC website.
Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff, whose organization has been lobbying for a complete asbestos ban in Canada, says the lower threshold will “send a clear message” at the carcinogenic mineral should not be used.
“We welcome the action of the government,” Yussuff says. “Lowering the threshold certainly brings us one step closer to the inevitable situation that the government already announced – a complete ban on both import and export of asbestos.”
Yussuff adds that there is still a lot more work to do, including bringing all provincial asbestos-exposure standards into line in creating registries of buildings that still contain the mineral. “We need a national registry for workers that are dying from asbestos-related disease in this country.”
ESDC announced its strategy on a nationwide asbestos ban on December 15, 2016. In addition to the new occupational exposure limit, the strategy consists of regulating the handling, removal, repair and disturbance of asbestos-containing material to minimize the exposure of workers. Public Services and Procurement Canada had already banned the use of asbestos in all new federal construction and renovation projects.
Ontario regulation 278/05 covers, “ASBESTOS ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AND IN BUILDINGS AND REPAIR OPERATIONS”. The current standard in Ontario has been 0.1 fibre/cm3 for quite some time. Let’s educate our workforce to identify possible asbestos hazards and work to eliminate the hazard once and for all.
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including Asbestos Hazard Safety Awareness. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.