The federal government has published a partial online inventory of buildings it owns or leases across Canada identifying whether or not they contain asbestos.
Labour, health and community advocates have been lobbying government for this type of public asbestos building registry
for years along with wider actions to control or eliminate exposure.
“Workers, health and safety representatives and others should not have to guess whether or not asbestos is present in the workplace or any public building,” says Denis St-Jean, national health and safety officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). “This inventory goes some way to eliminating this deadly guessing game
The National Asbestos Inventory
currently lists 2,184 properties owned or leased by Public Services and Procurement Canada. Of these properties, 714 contain asbestos — more than half are located in Ontario. Each is required to have an asbestos management plan
St-Jean points out that many of these plans provide important details including the exact location of asbestos within buildings. His concern, however, is with the fact some lack this and other essential information
“The location within the building and specific use of asbestos is crucial information to the health of anyone who enters and of particular relevance for maintenance personnel and contractors,” says St-Jean. “When faced with inadequate information, it is imperative for these workers or the public to seek answers. Having this registry in the public domain helps to legitimize requests for further details
. Equally important, it should prompt action to ensure full disclosure up front.”
Thousands of additional properties owned or leased by other federal government departments are not currently included as part of this online building inventory. According to the government, each department is required to publish their own inventories
within the next 12 months.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) are just two of many organizations calling for further action immediately considering the deadly risk for workers and the public. It’s estimated that more than 2,000 Canadian workers die
every year from mesothelioma and other diseases related to asbestos exposure making it by far the leading cause of work-related death.
“Provinces and municipalities should follow the federal government’s lead and include their own public buildings in the online inventory,” says Hassan Yussuff, president, CLC. Schools, hospitals and community centres are just some of the buildings in communities across the country that may contain asbestos.
Labour, health advocates and many others here in Canada continue to press the federal government for further preventive action including a national registry for cases of asbestos-related diseases and a comprehensive health response. “This is about workers’ safety and it’s about public safety
, which is why we are calling for the government to adopt a comprehensive ban on asbestos
,” says Yussuff.
Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) continue to be legally imported and used in Canada. In fact, importing ACMs, such as cement pipe and brake linings and pads, has increased in recent years.
For our part, the Workers Health & Safety Centre offers a range of resources and asbestos awareness training
to help workplace parties better understand this deadly hazard, related health and safety legislation and measures to eliminate, control and track exposure.
To learn more:
Call: 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative, or
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