City of Chilliwack adds new step in demolition permit process

New permit process will reinforce proper asbestos management practices

Asbestos containing material was recently dumped near Industrial Ave. in Chilliwack.

Asbestos containing material was recently dumped near Industrial Ave. in Chilliwack.

Chilliwack has joined the short list of municipalities that support WorkSafeBC’s initiative to make demolition sites safer for workers.

From now on, demolition permits will only be issued after the city receives written verification that a hazardous risk assessment has been completed by an occupational and health safety professional with experience in asbestos management.

The hope is that asbestos will be always be removed, transported and disposed of safely, without exposing workers to its deadly, airborne fibres.

Council unanimously passed the item, Policy G-26, at the evening meeting on Oct. 6, following staff recommendations.

“Since demolishing buildings containing asbestos can cause serious health problems, the purpose of the new approved policy is to provide a guide to staff with respect to the issuance of demolition permits,” the staff report said.

The new policy backs up Section 20.112 of the WorkSafeBC regulations, which describes the requirements that employers and owners are responsible for before beginning work on the demolition or salvage of buildings or structures.

The policy will be in place for buildings constructed prior to 1990.

In addition, a condition on each demolition permit will be provided reminding the applicant/owner that before beginning work on the demolition or salvage of a structure, all WorkSafeBC Regulations must be complied with.

WorkSafeBC has been cracking down on demolition jobs that are not properly dealing with asbestos, in an effort to eventually lower the number of deaths related to asbestos exposure.

The organization recently released their annual statistics book, which highlights asbestos exposure statistics.

From 2005 to 2014, they report 581 deaths in B.C. were related to asbestos exposure, with the majority of those workers dying before the age of 65. Last year, one British Columbian died on an average of every five days from work-related exposure to asbestos.

Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Saanich and Nanaimo have also recently adopted policies to require various levels of compliance at the municipal level.