Asbestos abatement licensing and training

What was this engagement about?

The Province continues to advance workplace health and safety and would like to hear from British Columbians about a proposal to establish new workplace requirements related to asbestos. 

Asbestos-related diseases are the leading cause of workplace deaths in BC, accounting for 33% of all occupational disease and traumatic workplace fatalities from 2000 to 2020 – a total of 1,279 deaths out of 3,879 workplace fatalities. 

Workers and others continue to be exposed to this extremely hazardous substance due to high levels of non-compliance with existing health and safety rules amongst some employers and contractors who undertake asbestos abatement work, and a lack of adequate safety training for asbestos abatement workers.

Problems include not testing for the presence of asbestos-containing materials prior to undertaking a renovation; inadequate procedures and controls; inadequate training and supervision; asbestos removal being undertaken by workers who lack proper personal protective equipment; and the release of asbestos fibers into the air during a demolition project. 

Government would like to hear from a broad range of British Columbians – including workers, employers, contractors, building- and homeowners, and the general public – about a proposal to establish new workplace requirements under the Workers Compensation Act that would:

  • require asbestos abatement contractors to be licensed by WorkSafeBC to operate in BC; and
  • require employers, workers and contractors who perform asbestos abatement work in BC to be certified through a mandatory asbestos safety training process that would be authorized by WorkSafeBC.

What is asbestos abatement?
Asbestos abatement involves work that identifies, takes samples for testing, removes, transports and disposes of asbestos containing material. Asbestos abatement must be performed properly before a building is renovated or demolished so that the site is safe and free from asbestos fibers for workers and others.
When combined with WorkSafeBC’s existing regulations and education and enforcement programs, the proposed licensing and certified training requirements support a regulatory framework that is better aligned to the highly hazardous nature of asbestos abatement work. The proposed requirements also help ensure that this work is performed safely and in accordance with the law.

The engagement questions asked were:

Question #1:
To improve workplace safety, do you support requiring that asbestos abatement contractors be licensed to undertake their work in BC? Yes/No?

Question #2:
To improve workplace safety, do you support requiring that workers, employers, and contractors performing asbestos abatement work in BC receive certification through a mandatory asbestos safety training process? Yes/No?

Question #3:
Do you have any comments, thoughts, or concerns regarding these proposals?

Learn more on how government is taking action to better protect workers, the public and the environment from asbestos: Asbestos Report 2018 , WorkSafeBC resources.

Read the News Release regarding new protections coming for people working with asbestos:

How can my contribution make a difference?

The responses collected throughout this engagement will be used to support decision-making on the future of asbestos abatement in B.C. We value your input and appreciate your time and your ideas. 

Details of the Engagement

Date: January 11, 2022 to February 11, 2022

Category: Health & Safety

Status: Closed

Location: Province-wide

Type: Email