Category: Hazardous materials

Photo of a male putting on PPE on an asbestos abatement site.

New protections to help keep everyone safe from the danger of asbestos came into effect on January 1, 2024 in British Columbia.  By Marnie Douglas, Guest contributor to Speaking of Safety Starting January 1, 2024, all asbestos abatement contractors must be licensed to operate in British Columbia. Additionally, anyone performing asbestos abatement work must complete […]

Person in grocery store with shopping basket, looking at food in a freezer

A broken refrigeration system could release gas that displaces oxygen from the room before workers can react — controls and training are key.  “We can’t see asphyxiant gas, so we don’t necessarily realise it’s a risk,” says David Ogilvie, an occupational hygiene officer with WorkSafeBC. “Any mechanical system using gas could fail, with severe consequences. […]

New safety training is available for workers in collision shops, the towing industry, and other workplaces where there are electric vehicle batteries.  Just over a year ago, I wrote about the need to raise employers’ awareness of electric vehicle (EV) safety. I spoke with Percy Chua, a manager in WorkSafeBC’s Risk Analysis Unit, who advised […]

Photo of a sign in front of an older home that says Danger asbestos removal in progress

Harmful asbestos fibres can be found in more than 3,000 common building materials.  Recently, a friend of mine said their 18-unit condo building had a plumbing job done and found asbestos in the drywall from 1977. The contractor followed all safety procedures and notified residents. At Simon Fraser University, hazardous material experts are assessing its […]

Photo of a welder in a factory

A risk of exposure to fire and explosion exists for workers who weld or do other work that generates sparks and can ignite fuel when oxygen is also present.  “Hot work” is any task that involves burning, welding, riveting, grinding, or using fire- or spark-producing tools, or other work that produces a source of ignition. […]

Photo of asbestos memorial mobile installed outside on the waterfront of Vancouver with people riding by it on bicycles

North America’s first public memorial for people exposed to asbestos will be unveiled this Fall, on the waterfront path by the Vancouver Convention Centre.  Each year, more than a million people pass by the location where a unique asbestos memorial will be unveiled this Fall. Created by Vancouver artist Doug Taylor, this Wind Wheel Mobile […]

Photo of a circular saw cutting into cement making dust and possible silica exposure.

BCCSA’s online tool can help employers conduct a risk assessment and apply effective controls and safe work practices where silica dust may be a hazard.  As an employer in B.C., you are required to protect workers from hazardous exposures — including from silica. Silica is a mineral found in sand, as well as in quartz […]

Photo of close up detail of flood restoration worker's hands working with a measuring tape and pencil in wood plank

Contamination, structural damage, and asbestos in materials are among the hazards facing restoration contractors during massive flood cleanup.  Restoration companies are in high demand in southern B.C., after atmospheric rivers caused flooding that damaged numerous homes and buildings. I read this CBC News story about potential hazards for workers who are helping with restoration. In […]

Photo of an electric vehicle battery charge screen in a car showing 75 percent charged.

Handling electric vehicle batteries can put workers at risk. Here are some of the hazards and risk controls you should know, as an employer.  As the use of electric vehicles (EVs) increases, safety advocates are looking at how to improve safety for workers who tow, recover, and recycle them. EVs are powered by high-voltage lithium-ion […]

Photo of technician spraying foam insulation using plural component gun for polyurethane foam, inside

If you work with spray foam insulation or finish coatings, you may be exposed to isocyanates, and should know the health effects of working with them.  Exposure to isocyanates — chemicals released into the air by varnishes, paints, coatings, and insulating spray foams — is often a silent exposure. Recently, I noticed on Twitter that […]