We seem to be hearing from WorkSafeBC regularly when it comes to asbestos awareness campaigns in the workplace. This time, the provincial organization is targeting homeowners who are planning on renovations or demolitions of older homes — and the advice is worth taking note of no matter where you live.
The message: notify your contractor.
The asbestos risk
If your home was built before the mid-1980s, it almost certainly contains asbestos in one for or another. It is often mixed with other substances in ACM — or asbestos containing materials.
- It was used in over 3,000 common building materials;
- You may find it anywhere from linoleum floor tiles to acoustic ceiling tiles;
- It may be present in stucco, popcorn ceilings, or textured paints;
- It was used in vermiculite loose fill insulation, typically in attics;
- It may be present in drywall mud, window or door sealant;
- Roof shingles or sheet roofing may contain asbestos.
While it is intact, the material is considered safe. However, even though asbestos itself is virtually indestructible, the other materials it was often mixed with are not. As they deteriorate, it can create dust, or friable (inhalable) asbestos that may then enter the lungs and cause a range of health problems, including lung cancers and deadly mesothelioma.
The WorkSafeBC campaign urges homeowners to protect not only the contractors who work on your home, but your neighbours, and you and your family too, by finding out about ACM in their homes, and having it removed before any work proceeds.
Al Johnson, vice-president of prevention services for WorkSafeBC, is quoted in Construction Connect.
“If you’re planning to renovate or demolish a home built before 1990, as a homeowner you need to talk to your contractor about planning for asbestos testing and proper removal. Identifying and safely removing asbestos is critical to ensuring the health and safety of everyone working on the project.”
- According to WorkSafeBC figures, 36 percent of all work-related deaths in 2018 were due to asbestos exposure.
Finding out about the potential risks before you begin is only common sense. If you are working on your own home, there is no legal requirement to find out about asbestos before renovations or demolition. If you hire a contractor, or employ people to do the work, labour laws apply.
Demolitions, Alterations and Repairs
Before requesting tenders or arranging or contracting for the demolition, alteration or repair work to be carried out on a building, machinery, equipment, aircraft, locomotive, railway car, ship or vehicle, the owner must determine if any friable or non-friable material that is likely to be handled, dealt with, disturbed or removed during the work meets the definition of ACM or else treat it as if it does in accordance with this Regulation.
We Can Help
Let us help. If you have asbestos anywhere in your home, let us help with the next step: asbestos removal. Our experienced and certified asbestos removal and asbestos remediation technicians can help keep you and your family safe. In the Toronto area call Environmental at (416) 818-9414. Contact us for a quote today.
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