WorkSafeBC recently imposed a penalty for $710,488.79 to GFL Environmental 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.
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 firm’s workers inside the containment area, loading debris into disposal bins with an excavator. 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.
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.
· More information on asbestos is available at worksafebc.com