Blog Post #816 – Asbestos Cited as Culprit in Many Quebec Workplace Deaths

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A majority of work-related deaths in Quebec in the first seven months of 2009 were the result of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, note statistics released by the Confederation des syndicats nationaux (CSN).

Based on data from the CSST, the CSN reported in mid-October that 61 of the 104 work-related deaths between January and early August of 2009 were linked to asbestos exposure. For the same period in 2008, 58 of the 127 deaths were asbestos-related, and in 2007, it was 64 of the 131.

The latest national figures from Statistics Canada also point to a rising number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity. There were 384 such deaths in 2005, up from 292 in 2000.

“It takes many years often for mesothelioma to show up,” notes Murray Finklestein, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and a researcher in the area of occupational health. The average period between first exposure to asbestos and death from mesothelioma is about 45 years, says Finklestein.
Canadian worker deaths from asbestos exposure is expected to peak from 2010 to 2020, James Brophy, a researcher associated with the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), notes in a 2007 paper.

Mesothelioma statistics are likely more complete than data on asbestos-related lung disease, Finklestein suggests. “I would expect more lung disease cases are not captured,” he says, adding that where workers have a history of both smoking and asbestos exposure, the development of lung cancer is often attributed to smoking.

Canada generally does “a very poor job” of tracking work-related incidences of diseases caused by asbestos, say Kathleen Ruff, a member of the Rideau Institute on International Affairs, in Ottawa, an organization critical of Canada’s export of Chrysotile Asbestos mined in Quebec. “The tragedy of asbestos-related illness in Canada is it could have been prevented if we had not denied the scientific evidence, if we had not allowed the asbestos industry to use the same tactics as the tobacco industry,” argues Ruff, a British Columbia resident and former director of that province’s Human Rights Commission.

My opinion

The province of Ontario has two regulations governing Asbestos. The first deals with asbestos in the Designated Substance regulation 490/09 and the second deals with the construction workplace under regulation 278/05 – “Designated Substance” – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations. It is important to note that the regulation 278/05 was never rescinded as the other singular regulations that pertained to designated substances that were in effect prior to 2009.

I guess it was just that important!

Please read my blog here at HRS Group Inc. and you will find examples of asbestos-related incidents that required fines to be issued. Some of the stories will curl your hair (if you have any) Some of the examples were a clear violation of both legal and moral concerns.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

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

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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