NORTH VANCOUVER CUPE 389 applauds the workers compensation board for imposing a $19,450 fine on the city of North Vancouver for exposing over 50 employees and construction workers to airborne asbestos dust. The exposure occurred over a one-month period of seismic renovations on fire hall no. 1, where two members of CUPE 389 are clerical staff.
We are encouraged to see WCB enforcing health and safety laws through fines, says Cindy Mc Queen, CUPE 389 president. Too often, employers get away with violations with nothing but a slap on the wrist.
The exposure occurred over two years ago. When it was discovered, employees were immediately relocated and the fire hall underwent an asbestos removal program.
The board found the city failed to disclose the presence of asbestos and failed to maintain an effective asbestos management program. The city was aware of the presence of asbestos and had an asbestos hazard assessment report done in 1989.
Being unaware of the presence of asbestos in the materials (such as ceiling and drywall) involved in the renovation, construction workers did not take precautions to adequately protect themselves from inhaling asbestos containing dust and did not use adequate procedures to control the creation and spread of dust.
In an inspection report summary, WCB officer Jeff Pasternak reminds the city that, it remains the employers responsibility to take all necessary steps to prevent unprotected workers from exposure to asbestos.
Cindy McQueen, CUPE 389 President, (778) 688-9537
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, (604) 291-1940