How should I handle it?
Who is responsible
Before work begins that may disturb asbestos containing materials, employers and owners must:
- Ensure that an inspection has been conducted by qualified persons to identify the location of hazardous materials, including asbestos
- Make the results of these inspections available at the worksite, with appropriate drawings, plans or specifications to show the location of these materials
- Ensure these materials are removed or safely contained, prior to commencing work that may disturb them
- Ensure that a qualified person has conducted a risk assessment and that work procedures acceptable to WorkSafeBC have been developed to eliminate or minimize the exposure risk
Supervisors must ensure the health and safety of all workers under their direct supervision, which includes ensuring that work procedures developed by the employer are effectively implemented.
Workers have responsibilities for their own health and safety and the health and safety of other workers. That means that they must:
- Follow the procedures developed
- Refuse work that they believe creates an undue hazard
- Report to their supervisor any defect or hazard that they think may endanger the worker or any other person.
Are you planning to renovate or demolish a house built before 1990? If so, your house most likely contains asbestos — a highly dangerous and toxic material. To avoid exposure, you must:
- Have an experienced contractor inspect your home to determine where asbestos-containing materials are before you begin your renovations
- Have all identified materials removed by someone trained in asbestos removal
- Contact your municipality to find out how to dispose of asbestos-containing materials
For more information on your responsibilities for handling asbestos, please consult our FAQs.
Prime contractors and owners
In a multiple-employer workplace (where there are two or more employers working at the same time), a prime contractor should be specifically designated as a prime contractor for the purposes of the Workers Compensation Act. If there is no written agreement, the owner is deemed to be the prime contractor.
Working with Asbestos
It's possible that you've worked with, or disturbed asbestos before, but now you're clued up on how asbestos can affect your life, make sure you avoid disturbing it, or are trained and always work with it safely.
You have a right to be given information about the condition and location of asbestos before you start work. You must pass this information on to anyone working for you on the job. You should ask for this when tendering or quoting for work, the information about asbestos will help you to cost the job correctly, plan the work safely, preventing potentially expensive surprises on site.
So before you start work on any site built before the year 1990, check that:
- You are not working on asbestos-containing products
- You have reviewed the information on the location of asbestos-containing materials, safe work procedures have been developed by qualified persons and you have adequate training and experience to complete this work
Don't start work if:
- You are not sure if there is asbestos where you are working
- You have not been trained to work with asbestos. Basic awareness training is not enough
You should only continue to work if:
- The work has been properly planned and the right precautions are in place (eg. you have the right equipment, controls and procedures)
- You have had training in asbestos work and know how to work with it safely
Follow these 10 steps to compliance, when renovating or demolishing buildings constructed prior to 1990.
The Safe Work Practices for Handling Asbestos manual provides information about asbestos and assists employers in developing suitable work procedures.