Home Workplace Legislation/Press Releases B.C. implements new asbestos safety regulations to protect workers and public

B.C. implements new asbestos safety regulations to protect workers and public

by HR Law Canada

British Columbia has implemented stringent safety regulations for asbestos removal, transportation, and disposal, marking a significant step in occupational health and safety.

This initiative makes B.C. the first Canadian jurisdiction to establish a formal licensing system for asbestos-abatement activities. The new rules kicked in on Jan. 1, 2024.

Under these new regulations, employers engaged in asbestos abatement must obtain a license, and workers performing these tasks are required to be certified. WorkSafeBC, the provincial body responsible for workplace safety, is overseeing both the employer licensing and worker certification processes. The agency began accepting license applications from employers in September 2023 and has since launched an online registry listing licensed employers.

To prepare the workforce for these changes, training for worker certification commenced in June 2023, aligning with the January 2024 deadline for worker certification. This move follows amendments made to the Workers Compensation Act in 2022, aimed at bolstering the regulatory framework governing asbestos-abatement work. These adjustments were made to enhance protection for both workers and the general public from the hazards associated with asbestos.

Asbestos abatement work encompasses a range of activities, including the removal, repair, transportation, and disposal of asbestos or materials containing asbestos. Employers and workers involved in such activities are encouraged to visit the WorkSafeBC website to understand if their work necessitates a license or certificate.

Statistics underscore the critical nature of these regulations. Asbestos-related illnesses remain the leading cause of workplace fatalities in British Columbia, surpassing all other types of workplace injuries or illnesses. In 2022, asbestos exposure contributed to 61 out of 181 workplace deaths. Over the past decade, WorkSafeBC has processed over 500 claims for fatalities linked to occupational diseases caused by asbestos exposure. The implementation of these new rules represents a proactive approach to curbing these alarming trends and safeguarding those in the asbestos-abatement industry.

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