In a groundbreaking move, British Columbia has emerged as the pioneer among Canadian provinces by implementing a licensing requirement for asbestos abatement contractors, effective January 1, 2024.
To bolster the safety of workers engaged in asbestos abatement, amendments were introduced to the Workers Compensation Act in the spring of 2022. These amendments not only necessitate licensing for contractors undertaking asbestos abatement work but also mandate the employment of trained and certified workers for such tasks.
Starting September 2023, WorkSafeBC will begin accepting license applications from contractors across the province who are involved in asbestos abatement work. By the end of the same year, a comprehensive registry of licensees will be made publicly available.
Furthermore, the legislative changes grant WorkSafeBC the authority to administer a certification program for individuals involved in asbestos abatement work. The slated commencement of the mandatory training for worker certification is this summer.
Since the announcement of these enhanced safeguards in the spring of 2022, WorkSafeBC has been diligently working on developing a framework for the asbestos certification and licensing program. Simultaneously, policy and regulatory adjustments have been made to align with the legislative amendments. Regular meetings have been conducted with employer and worker groups to provide them with detailed briefings on the new requirements.
The introduction of stringent laws and controls surrounding asbestos abatement work is of paramount importance for safeguarding both individuals and the environment from the inherent hazards associated with asbestos.