Blog Post #954 – Regional Municipality of Waterloo Fined $50,000 After Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo pleaded guilty and has been fined $50,000 after workers were exposed to the hazard of asbestos.

The exposure took place between October 2 and October 27, 2015, when eight workers employed by the municipality were working on a construction project at the region’s water pumping station located at 23 William Street East in the City of Waterloo.

The project involved the removal of existing equipment followed by the installation of new electrical and instrumentation equipment in a well house (also known as building #772).

In 2014, the municipality had commissioned a designated substance assessment from a hygiene consultant which identified that the well house contained asbestos-containing materials. The employer failed to advise the workers and their supervisors of the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the building prior to the commencement of the construction work.

During the work, workers penetrated the interior concrete block walls of the building when they drilled into the walls. These workers were exposed to asbestos when the vermiculite (asbestos-containing material) was disturbed and spilled out from the wall cavities. The workers were not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as required when working around asbestos-containing material, nor did they treat the material in the well house as asbestos-containing.

The workers were not working continuously in the well house between the specific dates in October. One worker entered the building only once for a two-hour period, another entered for seven hours one day. None of the workers’ exposure would qualify as extensive, court was told.

One of the workers notified their supervisor and the health and safety advisor for the Region of Waterloo that the material encountered in the building could be asbestos-containing. The Ministry of Labour and a hygiene consultant were contacted, and proper clean-up of the spilled materials was done.

The employer pleaded guilty to failing to provide a worker with the required information about materials that are asbestos-containing, contrary to Ontario Regulation 278/05 (the Designated Substance – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations Regulation) and was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson in Kitchener court on January 13, 2017.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario regulation 278/05, (Designated Substance – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations), section 5(2) which states,

“This section applies whenever a worker is to do work that,

(2) The constructor or employer shall advise the worker and provide him or her with the following information:

  1. The location of all material described in clause (1) (a).
  2. For each location, whether the material is friable or non-friable.
  3. In the case of sprayed-on friable material, for each location,
  4. if the material is known to be asbestos-containing material, the type of asbestos, if known, or
  5. in any other case, a statement that the material will be treated as though it contained a type of asbestos other than chrysotile.”

The mineral “asbestos” is deemed to be a designated substance and there are two regulations covering exposure levels and protection to workers. Ontario regulation 278/05 covers the removal or working around asbestos in construction projects (asbestos already there) and Ontario regulation 490/09 covers designated substances which are;

  1. Asbestos
  2. Vinyl Chloride
  3. Lead
  4. Arsenic
  5. Isocyanates
  6. Mercury
  7. Coke Oven Emissions
  8. Ethylene Oxide
  9. Benzene
  10. Acrylonitrile, and
  11. Silica

All are listed as deadly and have special control standards that have to be met. Asbestos has three diseases to deal with;

  1. Mesothelioma,
  2. Lung Cancer, and
  3. Asbestosis

The reader can sure understand why asbestos awareness is necessary and training goes a long way in protecting the worker.

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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