May 21, 2014 7:58 pm
Updated: May 22, 2014 8:52 am

Asbestos registry expanded for Saskatchewan public buildings

The province is making public buildings safer for workers in Saskatchewan by enacting more specific regulations for the online asbestos registry.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

SASKATOON – The provincial government announced its making public buildings safer for Saskatchewan workers by enacting asbestos regulations associated with The Public Health Act, 1994 or Howard’ Law.

Occupational health and safety asbestos rules have been amended to include additional forms of asbestos for the province’s online registry.

The asbestos registry became public on Tuesday.

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“These new requirements will improve safety by better informing workers on asbestos exposure,” said Don Morgan, Saskatchewan’s minister of labour relations and workplace safety.

The ministry says building repairs and maintenance could disturb asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and release harmful fibres into the air.

Building owners are now required to have a professional assess ACM or designate a suspected case until proven otherwise. This includes identifying such information as accessibility, concentration and visual details.

Building owners can find forms to email the ministry via Labour.Webmaster@gov.sk.ca.

Owners who have already provided information are required to review the new rules and provide an update if applicable.

Enforcement comes in to effect for all asbestos-related activities starting June 1. Noncompliance could result in a maximum fine of $20,000.

In November 2013, Saskatchewan proclaimed Howard’s Law, which makes public asbestos registry mandatory for crown corporations, school districts, health regions and provincial buildings.

Morgan acknowledged Howard Willems’ advocacy regarding the dangers of asbestos.

“Once again I want to acknowledge the late Howard Willems and his efforts to make Saskatchewan workplaces safer,” said Morgan.

The registry was created due to the efforts of Willems, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma, as a result of inhaling asbestos working as a public building inspector.

Willems’ passed away in November 2012.

The opposition says The Asbestos Right-to-Know Amendment Act was originally introduced by NDP Leader Cam Broten in the fall of 2012. Broten later requested the name be changed to Howard’s Law.

The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety says the health effects from long-term asbestos exposure are well documented in causing lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Saskatchewan’s web-based asbestos registry is the first and only of its kind in Canada.

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