Employers in Kelowna, Sorrento fined for exposing workers to asbestos | Vernon News | iNFOnews

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Employers in Kelowna, Sorrento fined for exposing workers to asbestos

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November 03, 2015 - 4:30 PM

OKANAGAN - WorkSafe B.C. has slapped two local employers with heavy fines for exposing workers to asbestos.

The first, Kelowna’s Kone Inc., was handed a $15,000 penalty for potentially exposing its workers to harmful levels of asbestos. According to WorkSafe B.C., the company, which installs, maintains and repairs elevators and escalators, was first told to come up with an exposure control plan for preventing exposure to asbestos in November 2012, but as of April 2014, had not submitted an acceptable plan. WorkSafe B.C. says it ‘repeatedly discussed ECP (exposure control plan) requirements with the firm.’

Another workplace was also penalized for asbestos-related violations. The Sorrento Centre Anglican Church of Canada in the Shuswap was fined $14,384 for allowing workers to be in an area where there was damaged and exposed asbestos without using adequate personal protective equipment or safe work procedures.

“The firm should first have ensured that all friable (easily crumbled) asbestos-containing materials were removed or enclosed so as to prevent the release of asbestos fibres. These designated high-risk violations may have exposed workers to asbestos, a known carcinogen,” a WorkSafe B.C. report says.

The church has filed a notice of appeal.

Asbestos was a popular building material between the 1950s and 1990s due to its heat resistant properties and resilience to chemical erosion — but we now know that it causes a number of serious health problems. It’s often described as a hidden killer because asbestos-related diseases take a long time to develop. Once diagnosed, it’s often too late for treatment.

According to WorkSafe B.C., asbestos-related diseases resulted in 77 deaths in 2014, up from 59 in 2013.

Visit WorkSafe B.C. for more information about asbestos, and how to prevent exposure to it.

Credit: WorkSafe BC

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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