Blog Post #1507 – Asbestos Exposure Spurs Fine

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (January 2017)

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario, was fined $50,000 on January 13, 2017, after municipality employees were exposed to asbestos for 25 days while removing and replacing equipment in a well house at the Waterloo water-pumping station from October 02nd to the 27th in 2015.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) says the employees drilled into the interior concrete blocks of the building, which caused asbestos-containing vermiculite to spill out of the holes. The workers were not wearing proper personal protective equipment and did not treat the vermiculite as containing asbestos.

The Regional Municipality later pleaded guilty to failing to provide required information about materials containing asbestos to workers.

My opinion

The MOL was correct that the employees were to be given information to do their job.

Section 25, subsection 2(a) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states,

“An employer shall,

  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

There is an asbestos regulation 278/05, and section 10, subsection 1 & 2 states,

“An owner shall comply with this regulation before,

(a) requesting tenders for the demolition, alteration or repair of all or part of machinery, equipment, or a building, aircraft, locomotive, railway car, vehicle or ship; or

(b) arranging or contracting for any work described in clause (a), if no tenders are requested.

(2) Unless clause (3) (a) or (b) applies, the owner shall have an examination carried out in accordance with section 3 to establish whether any material that is likely to be handled, dealt with, disturbed or removed, whether friable or non-friable, is asbestos-containing material.”

When friable material is found then section the employer must ensure that section 20, subsection 1-3 are complied with. They state,

“(1) The employer shall ensure that,

(a) every worker involved in a Type 3 operation has successfully completed the Asbestos Abatement Worker Training Program approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development; and

(b) every supervisor of a worker involved in a Type 3 operation has successfully completed the Asbestos Abatement Supervisor Training Program approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

(2) The employer shall ensure that every worker and supervisor successfully complete the appropriate program required under subsection (1) before performing or supervising the work to which the program relates.

(3) A document issued by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, showing that a worker has successfully completed a program mentioned in subsection (1), is conclusive proof, for the purposes of this section, of his or her successful completion of the program.”

As the reader can see, the Region did not know of their responsibilities under the OHSA and any appropriate regulation.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Asbestos Safety Awareness’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.




Leave a Comment