BC updates asbestos handling requirements

New rules to enhance safety for workers in British Columbia doing asbestos removal, transportation and disposal will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

The rules will require asbestos-abatement employers to be licensed and ensure their workers are certified to perform this work. B.C. is the first jurisdiction in Canada to enforce a formal licensing program related to asbestos.

Asbestos-related diseases are the number one cause of workplace-related deaths in B.C., more than any other type of workplace injury or illness.

WorkSafeBC has the authority to oversee the employer licensing program as well as worker certification. WorkSafeBC started accepting licence applications in September 2023 and an online registry of licensed employers is now available. The required training for worker certification was launched in June 2023, so that workers can be certified by Jan. 1, 2024.

To keep workers and the public safe from the dangers of asbestos, changes were made to the Workers Compensation Act in 2022 to strengthen regulatory requirements for asbestos-abatement work. Employers and workers have been given sufficient time to comply with the new rules.

Asbestos abatement work includes removing, repairing, transporting and disposing of asbestos or materials that may contain asbestos.

Employers and workers should visit the WorkSafeBC website if the work they need a licence or a certificate.