New protections to help keep everyone safe from the danger of asbestos come 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 training with an approved provider and earn a certificate.
The provincial government has introduced these new protections to help keep everyone safe from the danger of asbestos.
Read why asbestos poses a serious threat to workers today in a previous post.
Recently, I talked about workers’ experience during the asbestos certification process (see Asbestos abatement workers talk about new certification requirements). To better understand the licensing process and what employers need to know if they haven’t yet applied for their licence, I spoke to the president of Kinetic Environmental — a hazardous materials abatement and demolition contractor with offices in Victoria, Courtenay, and Vancouver — and the first employer in B.C. to be licensed.
Employers can apply for an asbestos abatement licence through WorkSafeBC’s online employer portal. Kinetic president Jeremy Robinson has a message for others in the industry.
“The process was streamlined and easy, and WorkSafeBC’s Licensing Services did a great job of putting the application process together,” says Jeremy. “You will need to be registered with WorkSafeBC and then log in to your online services. The process is really straightforward and self-explanatory.”
WorkSafeBC has created a helpful Guide For Licensees to support employers through the process. The guide speaks to who requires a licence, licensing requirements, and the application process.
There is no cost to apply for a licence. Once you have applied, the process will take two to six weeks. Licences are issued for one year and will need to be renewed annually.
And once a licence has been issued, the licensee information will be added to the Asbestos Abatement Licence (AAL) Registry on worksafebc.com. This allows anyone hiring an asbestos abatement contractor to check that they are licensed to work in B.C.
Who will need a licence? Employers who perform asbestos abatement work in relation to a building will need to have a licence. This includes the following types of work:
Removing, repairing, transporting, or disposing of material that is or may be asbestos-containing material (ACM)
- Identifying material that is or may be ACM
- Collecting samples of material that is or may be ACM
- Assessing the risk posed by material that is or may be ACM
- Assessing the risk posed by working with or near material that is or may be ACM
- Planning or supervising any of the above activities
Employers who don’t perform abatement work but may come into contact with ACMs during the course of their work will not need a licence. Your workers, however, may still need to be certified if they are performing asbestos abatement. Visit WorkSafeBC’s Asbestos training, certification and licensing webpage to learn more about the licensing process, what it looks like and for answers to common questions.
For his part, Jeremy welcomes the new protections and feels the requirements are long overdue for the industry. “The dangers of asbestos and health-related effects of exposure are well known,” he says. “No one wants to be the company that puts workers and the public at risk. I’m hopeful that the new licensing and certification requirements will help decrease the likelihood of this happening. This is a major step toward making employees and our industry safer.”
And with the requirements only a month away, Jeremy recommends that employers who haven’t yet started the process submit their applications soon.
“Applying didn’t take much time at all; it was an easy process. I’d say get it done.”