Monday, 8 July 2013

Restoration Contractors Organization of Canada Working to Create National Asbestos Handling Protocol

Canada’s full-service restoration contracting industry is in the business of restoring lives.  Each year, tens of thousands of property owners across the country are adversely affected by losses relating to wind, fire and water.  As this article is being written, a massive mobilization is underway in Calgary, to assist with billions of dollars of flood damage caused by heavy rains and swollen waterways.

Like the past major incidents that our members have responded to, the flooding in Calgary has brought a number of issues to light, many of which relate to the health & safety of both workers and building occupants.  A primary issue is that of building materials and the potential for asbestos within such things as drywall, ceiling tiles and floor tiles.

Restoration Contractors Organization of Canada (RCOC) member companies deal with safety issues on a daily basis.  Mould, asbestos, and biohazards from flood waters are just some of the environmental issues that our members are trained to manage.  The reality is that these issues exist, and well-trained contractors typically have the necessary skills to deal with them professionally and safely.  Doing so mitigates any related dangers, and avoids the need for any public alarm.

As a general rule, any structure that was built prior to 1990 may have been built with building materials that contain asbestos in varying degrees.  Every province in Canada has regulations with regard to the identification, testing and handling of asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).  The provinces do not take this issue lightly.  In March of 2011, WorkSafeBC had shut down more than 30 building projects due to improper removal of asbestos and asbestos containing materials. The issue is of such concern in BC, that the government has launched an asbestos-specific websitenoting that the number of fatality claims due to occupational disease, and more specifically asbestos related disease, is on the rise.

RCOC members have the necessary training to operate according to the regulations.  During the current situation in Alberta, we are reminding members of the public that not all contractors are restoration contractors.  Awareness and training with regard to unique job hazards is something that most standard contractors are not equipped to deal with. 

It is for this reason that RCOC has embarked on the creation of a national asbestos handling protocol.  While our members are already equipped to deal with issues relating to asbestos, our many stakeholders and the public will be comforted by the fact that a comprehensive protocol for our industry exists.  Having a national standard raises the bar for anyone providing restoration services to the public.  What’s more, having a standard in place creates the need for continual education, especially in light of changing regulations.  A national standard will ensure that RCOC members stay current with all provincial regulations.

A national asbestos protocol is not only good optics for the full-service restoration industry, it makes good business sense.  Individuals and corporations want to do business with firms that have the necessary qualifications and skills to complete projects while complying with regulations.  Both workers and building occupants will benefit in the end.

Restoration Contractors Organization of Canada (RCOC) is a national organization that represents the image and interests of full-service restoration contractors to industry stakeholders and members of the public.  RCOC represents nearly 600 restoration contracting locations across Canada.  These businesses employ nearly 13,000 professionals, and contribute close to $2 billion to the Canadian economy.

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