Ontario Firm Under Investigation for Improper Asbestos Handling

Canada’s oldest furniture factory sadly closed some years ago, but it’s making the news today because of problems both old and new – including asbestos.

Kingston-area Gibbard Furniture was Canada’s oldest furniture factory, in business from the time it was built in 1835 until it was closed in 2009. The building languished for years until the property was recently purchased by a company with a view to converting and redeveloping it into condos and retail space. Their concept involved demolition of the interior to basically the walls and then a completely revamped and reconstructed interior.

Heritage Buildings
Virtually every building that was built before the mid-1980’s contains asbestos in one form or another – and this one beats that cutoff by about 150 years. The new owners hired a construction company to gut the building and that’s where the troubles started.

The Ontario Labour and Environment Ministries are now investigating the construction company over the way they removed materials from the building while they were gutting the interior. The Ministry received a tip that the potentially hazardous materials – including asbestos – were not handled or disposed of properly.

In a published report, a Ministry spokes person said, “The material was removed from the building and trucked to a quarry in Wilton, owned by the Dornekamp’s where it was disposed of. The main concern here is that material was not properly tarped when it was in transition to that quarry.”

When asbestos or asbestos containing materials are removed from any building, there are many safeguards and procedures that must be adhered to, including,

  • Worker protective equipment and gear;
  • Containment of the affected areas so that asbestos dust does not spread elsewhere during renovation/demolition;
  • Containment of the materials to be transported;
  • Containment of the materials during transport.

In other words, at all stages of the work, the potential for dissemination of deadly asbestos dust and fibres must be contained and confined as much as possible to avoid exposing anyone – other than the properly outfitted workers – to it. If it’s true, this is a very serious allegation indeed. If the materials were transported on a truck with no containment procedures in play, then there is a potential that anyone along the route was exposed to asbestos fibres.

In this case a stop work order was put into effect when the company was unable to provide documentation as to whether asbestos was on site or not.

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At GreenStream, we know that asbestos safety is no joke and nothing to be taken lightly. Carelessness affects not only the workers directly involved, but anyone in the vicinity who may be exposed to asbestos. You can be sure that our licensed and experienced asbestos removal and asbestos remediation technicians follow established procedures to keep you, your neighbours and our own workers safe.

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