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Province needs licencing for asbestos removers: Trades council

Last Updated Dec 15, 2016 at 9:16 pm PST

(iStock file photo)

Trades council says too many contractors aren't practicing safe asbestos removal

Ottawa is adopting a comprehensive ban on asbestos but construction workers will continue to die by the thousands

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The federal government is moving to ban all products containing asbestos by 2018. The comprehensive ban is designed to include construction materials and brake pads that currently use the cancer-causing agent.

Although asbestos was banned in most building materials back in the 1970s, the substance still kills thousands of workers every year.

Asbestos is found in old linoleum, walls, and concrete, which is dislodged when the walls and concrete get ripped up or torn down.

The BC Building Trades Council is calling for mandatory licencing for contractors hired to remove asbestos.

Executive director Tom Sigurdson says big problems in the building industry include contractors who aren’t practicing safe removal of asbestos and contractors who are fail to tell their employees they are handling a dangerous material.

“We’ve seen workers that have been deliberately exposed to asbestos, because their contractor has refused to tell them that the materials they are working with contain asbestos.”

And he says the risks don’t stop at the worker.

“When they get home, anybody that comes into contact with the worker can get contaminated because their clothes contain the fibres. They need to use the appropriate procedures to contain the material,” he explains.

About 2,000 workers die each year of asbestos-related illnesses in Canada, which is more than the number of workers who die of trauma on the job.