Canada enforced changes to occupational health and safety regulations on asbestos today. The federal government also declared new amendments under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, updates to national building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects and support for listing chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous material.
Employers are now required to include an asbestos exposure management program and provide education and training for employees involved in asbestos-related work activities, such as handling, removal, repair or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials that could expose employees.
In December 2016, the country announced it was banning asbestos by 2018. These new amendments to the Canada Labour Code, which are “long overdue,” according to Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, are the next step in lowering the risk employees face with asbestos in the workplace.
Provisions will ensure consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations for airborne asbestos fibre, while aligning the asbestos exposure standards with the highest, safest standard in Canada and internationally.
Through the Hazardous Substances Working Group, federally regulated employers and employees were consulted on these amendments including the requirements for employers to develop and implement an asbestos abatement and exposure management program.