OHS Canada Magazine

WorkSafeBC now accepting applications for asbestos abatement licenses

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September 7, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Asbestos WorkSafeBC

(Stanislav/Adobe Stock)

As of Jan. 1, 2024, employers performing asbestos abatement work must be licensed to operate in B.C. and anyone performing this work must be trained and certified.

These new requirements were part of amendments to the Workers Compensation Act made in spring 2022. The legislative amendments also gave WorkSafeBC the authority to develop and administer the licensing and certification regime, the agency said in a press release.

“It’s heartbreaking that asbestos-related exposure continues to be the number one killer of workers in B.C. Our government is committed to doing what is needed to keep people safe from the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Licensing asbestos abatement employers will ensure that only qualified and compliant companies can carry on this work. The new requirement is the first-of-its-kind in Canada and will go a long way to protecting the health and safety of workers and the public for generations.”

As of Sept. 5, 2023, WorkSafeBC is accepting licence applications from asbestos abatement employers. Any employer conducting the following types of asbestos abatement work will need a licence:

  • Identifying material that is or may be asbestos-containing material (ACM)
  • Collecting samples of material that is or may be ACM
  • Assessing the risk posed by material that is or may be ACM
  • Assessing the risk posed by working with or near material that is or may be ACM
  • Removing, repairing, transporting, or disposing of, material that is or may be ACM
  • Planning or supervising any of the above activities

Once a licence has been issued, the licensee will be added to a public registry posted on worksafebc.com so that other businesses, contractors, workers, and homeowners can identify the firms licensed to perform asbestos abatement work in B.C.


Asbestos training and certification

In addition to being required to have a licence, asbestos abatement employers will need to ensure their workers are appropriately trained and certified by Jan. 1, 2024.

Any individual performing asbestos abatement work must complete mandatory safety training and obtain a certificate from WorkSafeBC. The certificate will demonstrate that training has been completed, and they have the knowledge and skills to perform tasks safely. The level of certification required depends on the type of asbestos work being done.

“Certification and licensing go hand in hand to create a safer work environment for everyone,” said Todd McDonald, Head of Prevention Services at WorkSafeBC. “Licensing ensures that only qualified contractors operate in the field and the certification requirements demonstrate that individuals have the knowledge to safely handle asbestos abatement tasks.”

Online information sessions for workers about training and certification will be held on Sept. 13, 2023, and Oct. 5, 2023. Details are available on worksafebc.com.

Key facts

  • Asbestos is the number one killer of workers in B.C. Between 2013 and 2022, there were 588 deaths due to historical asbestos exposure, and about one third of those who died were construction workers.
  • In March 2022, the B.C. government passed Bill 5 — 2022: Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2022. The amendments required that employers who conduct asbestos abatement work must be licensed to operate in B.C., and that workers who perform this work must be certified to safely do the work in compliance with the regulatory requirements.
  • WorkSafeBC is authorized by the provincial government to develop and administer the asbestos licensing and certification regime.

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