B.C. employers charged over asbestos exposure

Three employers fined over $11,000

B.C. employers charged over asbestos exposure
Three firms fined thousands of dollars for exposure workers to asbestos-containing materials.

WorkSafeBC is charging three employers in British Columbia for violations relating to asbestos-containing materials.

Sunrick Development Ltd. has been fined $5,000 after WorkSafeBC inspected its worksite – a house undergoing pre-demolition asbestos abatement in Burnaby – and observed stucco debris, an identified asbestos-containing material (ACM), mixed into the dirt on the property.

The organization found that workers had used an excavator to load the dirt and ACM debris into a dump truck without having protective clothing, respiratory protection or a means to decontaminate.

WorkSafeBC issued a stop-work order as it determined that the Sunrick failed to prevent the spread of asbestos dust and debris to other work areas during work, a high-risk violation.

Harvinder Singh Bohguan/Skyline Drywall Company was also fined $3,859.14 when the company was installing drywall in a house in Surrey that was undergoing asbestos abatement.

During an investigation, WorkSafeBC found a stop-work placard and barrier tape in place and drywall and stucco, suspected asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), along the sides of the building. It determined that workers were inside without the benefit of personal protective equipment.

A WorkSafeBC risk assessment later confirmed the entire building was cross-contaminated with ACMs. 

It found that the firm failed to take the necessary precautions to protect workers before allowing work that would disturb ACMs, failed to provide a containment and decontamination facility and failed to prevent the spread of asbestos dust and debris to other work areas. These were high-risk violations. 

The company also failed to ensure a qualified person conducted a risk assessment before altering a building where ACMs may be disturbed, and failed to implement acceptable procedures for controlling asbestos. 

The firm also failed to ensure workers wore respirators, a high-risk violation, and failed to ensure workers wore protective clothing.

Lastly, Elite Pro Contracting Ltd. was fined $2,500 when it was conducting asbestos abatement at a house slated for demolition. WorkSafeBC inspected the site in Vancouver and issued a stop-work order after observing multiple deficiencies with the firm's abatement procedures.

Before starting work that would disturb asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), the firm failed to take the necessary precautions to protect workers, to ensure the immediate work area was cleared, and to adequately secure openings.

“During work, the firm failed to prevent the spread of asbestos dust and debris to other areas, and failed to ensure work surfaces were covered and kept free of asbestos dust. The firm also failed to effectively wet ACMs, and ensure that all asbestos waste was placed into sealed containers. These were all high-risk violations. In addition, the firm failed to ventilate the containment, a repeated violation,” according to WorkSafeBC.

Elite Pro also failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety, a repeated and high-risk violation.

A number of B.C. firms have previously been hit with fines for asbestos-related violations.

WorkSafeBC also previously issued a number of fines to companies flouting working at heights regulations, exposing workers to dangerous and potentially deadly falls