HMA’s Role with Asbestos and other Hazardous Materials
Occupational exposure to asbestos causes more than 70 deaths per year in BC.
Unlike other types of construction fatalities, there is no immediate or observable effect from exposure to asbestos. A 20 to 30 year latency period is common from initial exposure to the onset of often fatal diseases like Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer. The statistical record tells the story.
Our goal is to keep construction workers, home and building owners and neighbours safe from exposure to asbestos and other hazardous materials.
We provide comprehensive hazardous materials handling training for our member contractors and promote the use of the best available personal protective equipment (PPE) and work area controls.
The Hazardous Materials Association is also working with government regulators on several fronts to put regulations and policies in place that will reduce the risk of asbestos exposure.
We are speaking with WorkSafeBC and the provincial government to convince them to introduce provincial certification or licensing of asbestos abatement contractors and consultants. Other jurisdictions (Alberta, Ontario, and Washington State for example) have legislated mandatory training programs, and/or licensing requirements for asbestos abatement contractors. Unfortunately, we have no such safeguards in place in this province, and it is time for British Columbia to be proactive and adopt a similar approach.
In addition to provincial legislation, municipalities also need to do their part. For example, the City of Vancouver has recently updated a program that requires a pre-demolition hazardous materials inspection and report by a qualified person, and assurance that the hazardous materials have been properly dealt with before the issuance of a demolition permit.
In the interest of worker and public safety, as well as the protection of our environment, we urge all BC municipalities to adopt a program similar to the City of Vancouver’s.