Contractors risk reputation by not dealing with asbestos properly

Not dealing with asbestos properly can result in fines or stop-work orders that can harm your professional reputation. A new WorkSafeBC video explains more. 

Photo of person with crowbar in hand removing drywall

Photo credit: iStock.com/jklune

It is really worth the risk? That’s what WorkSafeBC asks construction contractors in the video Asbestos: Why risk it? It’s a reminder of their obligation to manage asbestos safely and responsibly.

Exposure to asbestos remains the number one killer of people working in construction. The Asbestos Awareness for Contractors campaign is part of WorkSafeBC’s ongoing initiative to protect workers from occupational disease.

Not taking asbestos seriously can destroy client confidence

To find out more about how poor asbestos-related safety practices affect reputation, I talked with Justin McConville. He’s the Hazmat Department Supervisor & Laboratory Manager with On Side Restoration.

“The effects on our reputation would be very costly,” he says, pointing out that WorkSafeBC publishes penalties in WorkSafe Magazine for all to see. “With a reputable company such as On Side, this could be detrimental to our business and account for a high loss of revenue due to clients and stakeholders losing confidence in our abilities.”

Chris Mitsche is a Construction Safety Officer and project manager with Enviro-vac. I also asked him how poor asbestos handling harms a contractor’s reputation.

“WorkSafeBC’s whole goal is to protect workers in any trade. If you send workers into harm’s way without properly dealing with asbestos, as an owner or an employer, your reputation is damaged because you’re seen as an employer or owner that doesn’t take care of its employees or trades. All materials that will be impacted by a renovation or demolition must first be tested for hazards such as asbestos,” he says.

Who hires asbestos contractors?

As a restoration company, On Side is mainly hired by insurance companies. On Side has an excellent reputation and is “not the lowest bidder when winning jobs,” Justin says.

But it’s a different story on many smaller projects.

“Other times, when people are hiring contractors it’s all about the bottom line. Often, when it’s homeowners looking for a demolition, they’re looking for the lowest bid and they don’t really care if it’s done properly or not.”

But attitudes towards asbestos are changing. Justin says WorkSafeBC is making good ground with projects like the hiddenkiller.ca website and increased enforcement. And the Asbestos Awareness for Homeowners campaign aims to educate homeowners on the role they play in keeping workers safe through their choice of asbestos contractor.

Visit WorkSafeBC’s Asbestos Awareness for Contractors web page to learn more about that campaign and to find asbestos-related resources. Also, see the news release about the initiative: Workers’ exposure to asbestos must stop, says WorkSafeBC

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