Attention Renovations & Demolition Contractors!
We have a story that we would like to share in regards to contractors making costly and dangerous mistakes when it comes to asbestos. Our hope is that you will share this information with friends and family and help spread awareness. WorkSafe BC put out this video stating that since the year 2000 more deaths have resulted from asbestos related disease than any other work place injury.
We want you to be aware and protect yourself, your workers, your clients and the environment. Some of the issues we run into are minor, others are moderate to extreme.
Recently, OH&S in Saskatchewan released the new asbestos abatement manual and regulations. Since its release we have been receiving more and more calls with some not so good situations where contractors have employees performing demolition on buildings built before 1990, without first having an asbestos audit completed. In some cases the asbestos containing materials are uncovered by contractors who are aware and realize right away that they must call in a professional, but other times nobody is made aware and this is where things become quite involved.
In some situations the contractors are performing a site visit after one or two full days and sometimes more where disruption of high risk asbestos containing materials has happened. At this point it is possible that the entire building, including the HVAC system would be compromised. Much worse, the contractors workers were exposed to high counts of asbestos fibres, building occupants are exposed and all of their belongings can even become contaminated and along with asbestos fibre disruption comes costly cleanup following OH&S regulations that must commence.
In North Battleford Sask, we were called out to assess a situation where a contractor bought a building built in the 60’s for an office space. The contractor came up with a game plan as to what demolition was required in order to properly renovate the building for offices/shop space. The demolition crew was assembled and began demolition over a weekend. Some cinder crete walls were in the way and so they were demolished. When the crew took the materials to the City of North Battleford landfill, little did they know that the City would be hiring a consultant to test the materials for asbestos prior to putting them through the crusher.
A consultant from Prince Albert was hired by the City of North Battleford. The tests came back and asbestos containing vermiculite was found to be present. OH&S got involved and the area at the landfill was hoarded off with danger tape until a consultant was available to write a scope of work and the building that was purchased for office and shop space was shut down. Worker asbestos exposure reports had to be filed with OH&S and testing of the building purchased for office/shop was required immediately.
A scope of work was created by the consultant and got mold?™ was retained by the contractor to perform the cleanup at the landfill. This scope of work consisted of high risk abatement set up and procedures to be followed. In order to follow the scope we were required to build a very large structure to contain the asbestos containing materials, provide a generator, lighting systems, temporary shower for showering in and out and heated water for the shower.
A consultant was required throughout the process with daily air monitoring, occupational testing and clearance testing along with a detailed report. As you can understand, this was a very elaborate and costly cleanup that the contractor was on the hook for.
Key lessons to be learned from this story are the following:
1. Before starting a renovation project, hire a professional consultant to determine whether your home or business has materials that have asbestos in them.
2. Determine whether or not the project will potentially disturb the asbestos.
3. If the consultant finds that the renovation project could release asbestos fibres into the air, then make sure you have an abatement plan in place by working with a professional abatement contractor.
This is just one story, we look forward to passing on more stories and lessons from out in the field.