Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Mary O’Neill, a supervisor, was fined $8,000 on November 9, 2010, for violating asbestos regulations imposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On November 17, 2009, Mrs. O’Neill was acting as a supervisor for 1636487 Ontario Limited, carrying on business as O’Neill Excavating 2005. That day, Mrs. O’Neill and one worker were removing the asbestos insulation surrounding a boiler at a rental property on Albert St., in Belleville. A tenant in the adjoining unit, concerned the asbestos was not being removed properly, notified the Hastings and Prince Edward County Health Unit. The Ministry of Labour was then notified.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that proper protective clothing was not worn in the work area, and the work area was not properly sealed off to prevent the spread of asbestos.

Mary O’Neill pleaded guilty to:

– Failing to ensure that only persons wearing proper protective clothing enter a work area where there is an asbestos dust hazard
– Failing to use the proper methods required to seal off the work area to prevent the spread of airborne asbestos fibres.

Mrs. O’Neill was fined $4,000 for each count.

The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Deanne Chapelle. In addition to the fines, the court 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.

The law(s) broken,

Mary O’Neill was found guilty of violating section 15 (14) of the Ontario ‘Asbestos in Construction’ regulation 278/05 which states,

“The following measures and procedures apply to Type 2 and Type 3 operations:

14) Only persons wearing protective clothing and equipment shall enter a work area where there is an asbestos dust hazard.”

Mary O’Neill was also found guilty of violating section 18, subsection 4(2) of the Ontario ‘Asbestos in Construction’ regulation 278/05 which states,

“The spread of dust from the work area shall be prevented by an enclosure of polyethylene or other suitable material that is impervious to asbestos, if the work area is not enclosed by walls, and a decontamination facility consisting of a series of connecting rooms including:

I. A room suitable for changing into protective clothing and for storing contaminated protective clothing and equipment
II. A shower room as described in paragraph 7
III. A room suitable for changing into street clothes and for storing clean clothing and equipment, and
IV. Curtains of polyethylene sheeting or other suitable material that is impervious to asbestos, fitted to each side of the entrance or exit to each room.”

My opinion,

An asbestos removal project is a ‘Planned Event’. The Ontario regulation 278/05, ‘Asbestos on Construction Projects’ is becoming the standard by which all other sections of other regulation will meet. There are sections in the Construction regulation 213/91 which cover asbestos but this new standard is the one that will eliminate the need of researching separate regulations for answers on asbestos removal.

Asbestos is a designated substance and is subject to very exacting regulations. I do hope Mary O’Neill finally understands her responsibilities concerning workplace safety and acts accordingly.

We still do not know the long term affect that her employees may have.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRSGroup Inc

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