When it comes to asbestos, knowing the facts could mean the difference between life and death.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in a variety of building products for more than 40 years. Asbestos is now considered a hazardous material that can cause serious health issues when it’s disrupted and becomes airborne. Therefore, when renovating or demolishing homes built from the 1950s to 1990s, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential presence of asbestos.
Some common fixtures around the home where asbestos can be found, both interior and exterior, include:
- sprayed or popcorn ceilings
- loose roof insulation
- window putty
- cement asbestos siding
- roof tiles
- acoustical tiles
- floor tiles
- sheet rock mud tape
- pipe insulation
As a contractor and employer, be aware of the steps to take before working with asbestos-containing materials (ACM). The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has outlined the actions that should be taken before working with ACM:
- Identify and mark the boundary of the designated work area by barricades, fences or similar means.
- Ensure the immediate work area is cleared of objects, materials and equipment other than what is needed to do the job.
- Ensure that windows, doorways and all other openings are adequately sealed or secured to prevent the release of asbestos fibre into other work areas.
- Post signs at the boundaries of the designated work area indicating: asbestos work is in progress; the hazards; and the precautions required for entering the work area. These signs must be posted in a prominent location at the entrances and on the periphery of each restricted area, as appropriate, and must remain posted until the area is no longer a restricted area.
- Restrict entry into the designated work area to authorized persons who are adequately protected against the level of risk within the designated work area.
It is critical that, as a contractor, proper protocol and care are taken when working with a structure that may contain asbestos. The hazardous material has been linked to diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma and pleural thickening. Each province has its own rules and regulations for dealing with asbestos in homes, in businesses and on construction sites.
Find more information regarding your province’s asbestos-removal guidelines by using the following Work Safe resources: Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.