Journal of Commerce: BC Insulators Union asks why no action on asbestos by BC government?

Asbestos exposure is BC’s deadliest workplace killer

The Journal of Commerce has published an article quoting BC Insulators Union Business Manager Neil Munro asking why the BC government has not taken action on improving asbestos exposure protection for workers after a lengthy consultation period.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“As Canada’s third wave of asbestos-related deaths looms, B.C.’s government appears to be no closer to implementing the sweeping changes outlined in its December 2018 report on the asbestos industry, including licensing and standardized training.

“This is not controversial,” said Neil Munro, business manager for the BC Insulators Union 118.  “I can’t understand why we are not doing it.”

Topping the list of recommendations endorsed by the union, the BC Federation of Labour (BC Fed) and the BC Building Trades (BCBT) is that surveyors carrying out asbestos assessment in buildings, companies involved in abatement, and consultants all be licensed.

“It is not time for a change — it is change long past due”

The labour trio also wants standardized training programs, accreditation of labs carrying out sampling, government incentives similar to those offered to remove urea formaldehyde and more disposal sites in B.C. as well as more control over disposal companies.

The Insulators Union responding to the B.C. government’s 2018 report, Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe from Asbestos, with its 16 industry recommendations urged speedy action.

“It is not time for a change – it is change long past due,” the union said in early 2019.

But by October 2020 a joint letter signed by Munro, Andrew Mercier, (former) executive director of the BCBT, and Laird Cronk, BC Fed president, to the five ministries involved in the study, plus WorkSafeBC, indicated a growing frustration with lack of action.

“Eighteen months later, no legislation has been introduced. This important report appears to be stalled inside government,” the letter said.

The government also hasn’t acted on a roundtable proposal.”

The article continues and then ends with this:

“The Insulators Union claims there were hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines unpaid to WorkSafeBC, with a Surrey company in 2018 owing as much as $1.1 million in fines for “repeated and flagrant” violations. In the same year, there were 37 administrative penalties totalling $237,386 with only 17 paying for a total of $66,256. Principal owners simply formed new companies.

WorkSafeBC has attempted a more costly court route and has issued 17 injunctions against companies and individuals involved in asbestos abatement to the end of 2020.

The Insulators Union has called the continued deaths in the industry ‘a needless human tragedy.'”

The full article is at: