Vernon School District working to improve employee safety following asbestos contamination - InfoNews

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Vernon School District working to improve employee safety following asbestos contamination

Vernon School District superintendent Joe Rogers.
Image Credit: Contributed
October 19, 2016 - 4:14 PM

VERNON - The Vernon School District has taken steps to improve employee safety following a WorkSafe B.C. investigation into the presence of asbestos.

The district was fined $75,000 by WorkSafe B.C. for allowing employees to work in areas contaminated with asbestos-containing material without taking the necessary precautions, and failing to ensure workers were aware of potential health and safety hazards.

“The school district has an employer’s responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace and is committed to conducting its operations and managing its facilities in a manner that protects health and safety,” Supt. Joe Rogers says in a statement to the media. “As stated in the WorkSafe B.C. penalty, the district has failed in a number of areas. The district is working to address all of these deficiencies.”

In 2015, the district added a new Health and Safety Officer position and completed asbestos assessments of all of district-owned facilities, a number of which are older buildings.

“Ideally the district will eliminate all (asbestos containing material) from its facilities as buildings are renovated or replaced. Anyone repairing, renovating or demolishing older buildings is at risk if asbestos is touched or moved and the fibres are released into the air,” the district states.

The district has also prepared and implemented an asbestos exposure control plan which includes training for employees and processes to ensure a healthy and safe workplace, according to the statement.

“While the district’s priority is on student learning, the district needs to ensure we have healthy and safe learning and working conditions. The district is working to control the risks and hazards in our workplaces and working to improve health and safety overall,” Rogers says.

He says the district is striving to minimize any health and safety risks through effective engineering, management controls, and health and safety programs.

“While the district has been improving our health and safety programs and processes, we still have areas for improvement. By everyone working together, we can achieve our district’s commitment to maintain healthy and safe learning and working conditions,” Rogers says.

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