Asbestos abatement changes coming to B.C.
By Adam FreillConstruction Construction Materials Health & Safety
Starting next year, asbestos abatement employers must be licensed to operate in B.C. Licences available via WorkSafeBC.
As of January 1, employers performing asbestos abatement work will require a licensed to operate in B.C. As part of amendments to the province’s Workers Compensation Act made in spring of 2022, anyone performing this work must be trained and certified. The legislative amendments also gave WorkSafeBC the authority to develop and administer the licensing and certification regime.
“It’s heartbreaking that asbestos-related exposure continues to be the number 1 killer of workers in B.C. Our government is committed to doing what is needed to keep people safe from the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure,” said Harry Bains, the province’s minister of labour. “Licensing asbestos abatement employers will ensure that only qualified and compliant companies can carry on this work. The new requirement is the first-of-its-kind in Canada and will go a long way to protecting the health and safety of workers and the public for generations.”
WorkSafeBC is now accepting licence applications from asbestos abatement employers. Any employer conducting the following types of asbestos abatement work will need a licence:
- Identifying material that is or may be asbestos-containing material (ACM).
- Collecting samples of material that is or may be ACM.
- Assessing the risk posed by material that is or may be ACM.
- Assessing the risk posed by working with or near material that is or may be ACM.
- Removing, repairing, transporting, or disposing of, material that is or may be ACM.
- Planning or supervising any of the above activities.
Once a licence has been issued, the licensee will be added to a public registry posted on worksafebc.com so that other businesses, contractors, workers, and homeowners can identify the firms licensed to perform asbestos abatement work in the province.
In addition to being required to have a licence, asbestos abatement employers will need to ensure their workers are appropriately trained and certified by this coming January.
Any individual performing asbestos abatement work must complete mandatory safety training and obtain a certificate from WorkSafeBC. The certificate will demonstrate that training has been completed, and they have the knowledge and skills to perform tasks safely. The level of certification required depends on the type of asbestos work being done.
“Certification and licensing go hand in hand to create a safer work environment for everyone,” said Todd McDonald, head of prevention services at WorkSafeBC. “Licensing ensures that only qualified contractors operate in the field and the certification requirements demonstrate that individuals have the knowledge to safely handle asbestos abatement tasks.”
Details about online information sessions for workers about training and certification are available on worksafebc.com.