Regional Municipality of Waterloo Fined $50,000 After Workers Exposed to Asbestos
KITCHENER, ONTARIO - The Regional Municipality of Waterloo pleaded guilty and has been fined $50,000 after workers were exposed to the hazard of asbestos.
The exposure took place between October 2 and October 27, 2015, when eight workers employed by the municipality were working on a construction project at the region's water pumping station located at 23 William Street East in the City of Waterloo.
The project involved the removal of existing equipment followed by the installation of new electrical and instrumentation equipment in a well house (also known as building #772).
In 2014, the municipality had commissioned a designated substance assessment from a hygiene consultant which identified that the well house contained asbestos-containing materials. The employer failed to advise the workers and their supervisors of the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the building prior to the commencement of the construction work.
During the work, workers penetrated the interior concrete block walls of the building when they drilled into the walls. These workers were exposed to asbestos when the vermiculite (asbestos-containing material) was disturbed and spilled out from the wall cavities. The workers were not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as required when working around asbestos-containing material, nor did they treat the material in the well house as asbestos-containing.
The workers were not working continuously in the well house between the specific dates in October. One worker entered the building only once for a two-hour period, another entered for seven hours one day. None of the workers' exposure would qualify as extensive, court was told.
One of the workers notified their supervisor and the health and safety advisor for the Region of Waterloo that the material encountered in the building could be asbestos-containing. The Ministry of Labour and a hygiene consultant were contacted, and proper clean-up of the spilled materials was done.
The employer pleaded guilty to failing to provide a worker with the required information about materials that are asbestos-containing, contrary to Ontario Regulation 278/05 (the Designated Substance - Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations Regulation) and was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson in Kitchener court on January 13, 2017.
The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
Court Information at a Glance
Provincial Offences Court/Ontario Court of Justice
77 Queen Street North
Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson
Date of Sentencing:
January 13, 2017
Regional Municipality of Waterloo
150 Frederick Street
23 William Street East
Occupational health and safety
Ontario Regulation 278/05
(Designated Substance - Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations)
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