Federal government taking next steps in banning asbestos to protect workers’ health and safety

Patty Hajdu

PATTY Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, on Wednesday announced that, as part of the Government of Canada’s comprehensive ban on asbestos, it is enhancing the Canada Labour Code for workers by lowering the exposure to airborne chrysotile asbestos to as close to zero as possible.
These changes to occupational health and safety regulations on asbestos come into force immediately. They will significantly lower the risk of workers coming into contact with asbestos in the workplace, while ensuring consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations for airborne asbestos fibre. They will also align the asbestos exposure standards with the highest, safest standard in Canada and internationally.
Hajdu said the government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of workers across the country are protected. The new regulatory provisions include an asbestos exposure management program, which requires employers to provide education and training for employees involved in asbestos-related work activities, such as handling, removal, repair or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials that could expose employees to asbestos in the workplace.
In addition to the amendments to occupational health and safety regulations on asbestos, the broader government strategy to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018 includes new regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, updates to national building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada and support for listing chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous material.
Hajdu said: “Every employee has the right to a safe workplace. I’m proud to be announcing these long overdue regulatory changes on asbestos, a key element of our government’s comprehensive ban on asbestos.”
Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, added: “Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is of utmost importance to the government. Canadians can be confident my colleagues and I will continue to work hard to ensure that families, workers and communities will be protected from the harmful impacts of asbestos exposure so they may lead healthy, secure lives.”