OHS Canada Magazine

Asbestos violation leads to record $700K penalty, highest ever imposed by WorkSafeBC


September 16, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Asbestos Fines GFL Environmental PPE WorkSafeBC

(Stanislav/Adobe Stock)

GFL Environmental has been hit with a penalty of more than $700,000 for asbestos violations at a worksite in Kimberly, B.C.

This is the maximum administrative penalty amount that can be imposed for 2022, and is the highest administrative penalty ever imposed by WorkSafeBC.

“The penalty was for failure to provide workers with personal protective equipment when conducting asbestos abatement work,” the agency said.

Building damaged by fire

WorkSafeBC inspected the site of a fire-damaged commercial building assumed to be cross-contaminated with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

This firm was hired to provide demolition services and debris removal. WorkSafeBC inspected the site after the building had been demolished and observed one of the firmā€™s workers inside the containment area, loading debris into disposal bins with an excavator.

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The worker was not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against exposure to Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) and exited the excavator, still within the containment area, without PPE.

The firm failed to ensure the worker within the designated work area wore appropriate protective clothing, and that its workers at risk of exposure to asbestos were instructed in the use of PPE and work procedures to be followed. The firm failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety. These were all high-risk violations, WorkSafeBC said.

Dangers of asbestos

Background on asbestos:

  • Of the 161 work-related deaths in 2021, 99 deaths were related to occupational disease. Asbestos exposure was the contributing factor in 53 work-related deaths in 2021.
  • Workers continue to die from mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer resulting from exposures that occurred decades ago.
  • WorkSafeBC has specialized teams that use the expertise of specialist physicians, nurses, case managers, sensitive claims officers and social workers to support these injured workers and their families, and to ensure they have been provided with all the benefits and allowances they are entitled to under the Workers Compensation Act.
  • Any worker who believes they may have contracted an illness due to their employment should contact WorkSafeBC. WorkSafeBC will assist with gathering employment history and medical evidence in order to determine if the disease is related to their work history.

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