Worksafe BC has approved amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that governs worker safety in BC. Effective February 1, 2012, there will be significant changes on how asbestos is regulated at BC workplaces and job sites.
Highlights of the Changes
- Definition of asbestos-containing material (ACM) is reduced from 1% to 0.5%.
- Redefining and extending the duties that must be conducted by a “qualified person”.
- The classifications of low, moderate and high have been re-defined.
The lowering of the percentage from 1% to 0.5% was enacted as materials containing less than 1% may expose workers to airborne asbestos fibres depending on the material type and how they are handled. This reduction will capture materials that were previously reported as less than 1%, but now may be greater than 0.5%; such as drywall, plaster, stucco and vermiculite. At PHH ARC, we have been diligent to identify these items by alerting our clients and either collecting more samples or by recommending worker protection when handling them. With regard to vermiculite, we have and will continue to advise our clients to treat vermiculite (from Libby, Montana) as an ACM based on that it contains amphibole asbestos and can create significant airborne fibre levels when handled improperly. Our recommendation to employers is to review their asbestos inventories and flag any materials previously reported as <1% and consider re-sampling.
With respect to a qualified person (QP), previously the duties performed by a QP was limited to performing risk assessments, but now it has been enhanced to include asbestos bulk sampling and preparing inventory reports (surveys and assessments). This change was enacted to increase the quality of asbestos inventories and eliminate or reduce errors, which in turn reduces liability and costly mistakes with the ultimate goal of maintaining a safe workplace. From an employer’s perspective, it is important to be diligent when selecting consultants or contractors to ensure that they are a qualified person.
The changes to the definitions of the risk levels have been modified with the intention of clarifying and removing some of the confusion between Low, Moderate and High Risk classifications. These changes will form the basis for a new Safe Practice Manual which we understand will be amended and re-issued sometime in 2012.
For details on the amendments, please refer the following link to WSBC.
If you would like more information of how this affects you and the management of asbestos, please contact Sean Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 604-238-2934.