Asbestos was used in construction materials commonly from 1930 until the 1980’s. Even though the ban of some asbestos containing material started in 1986 and fully by 1989, all manufacturers and distributors were allowed to exhaust their inventories and were still allowed to sell asbestos-containing products that remained at their facilities. Thus, asbestos can be evident in buildings even into the 1990’s.

Asbestos fibres can be found in buildings in the forms of spray-on fireproofing, pipe and boiler insulation, vermiculite insulation, vinyl floor tile, acoustical plaster/tile, roofing shingles, drywall joint-filling compound, and mastics/adhesives.

Prior to demolition, renovations, repairs or alterations of any kind, it is essential for all workers to acquire knowledge of asbestos containing materials (and other hazardous materials) that may be evident within the building.

Ontario’s Health and Safety Act, Regulation 278/05, outlines the proper protocol to protect workers from ACM when it is likely to disturb the fibres. In order to discover if a building has any hazardous materials, it is suggested to get a designated substance survey performed. Regulation 278/05 also applies to every project and its owner when the owner or his agent hires a contractor or subcontractor to perform work or supply services. The regulation applies whether or not it is known that ACM will be encountered during a repair, alteration or maintenance of a building.

A visual inspection will be performed, with a specialist extracting samples along the building to take to an accredited laboratory to test for hazardous substances. A finalized report is then available for all workers in order to inform themselves prior to any repairs or modifications within the building. An asbestos management program should be enforced if asbestos is found.

The Ministry of Labour of Ontario is extremely strict on regulating construction projects. Fines for failure to report asbestos or other hazardous materials on site are tremendous, ranging in tens of thousands of dollars. 

In fact, there are harsh fines set up to monitor transportation of hazardous materials as well. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act requires a certification to transport friable asbestos waste. Those caught with transportation of dangerous goods are fined $700.00. Also required is certificate of waste management from the Ministry of Environment which confirms disposal a special license landfill.

It is highly recommended to have a designated substance survey performed, even if repairs or modifications of a building are not expected right away. For future decisions, even small repairs, it is critical to uncover what’s lurking in your building or home. The protection of workers, including contractors, is key in conducting construction projects.

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