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Asbestos exposure leading cause of workplace deaths at 30%: WorkSafe Saskatchewan

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of workplace deaths in Saskatchewan and was responsible for almost 30 per cent of all 2020 work-related fatalities. File / Global News

New data from WorkSafe Saskatchewan shows asbestos exposure was the leading cause of workplace deaths in the province in 2020 at 30 per cent of all work-related fatalities.

WorkSafe is a partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the ministry of labour relations and workplace safety.

“Unfortunately, asbestos exposure continues to claim lives, but it is preventable,” said Annette Goski, WCB director of prevention.

Injury rates caused by asbestos exposure in Saskatchewan dropped by 10 per cent in 2020, from 2019.

Read more: Asbestos exposure leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan

“We are appealing to homeowners, contractors and workers — anyone in the construction field — to be aware that asbestos is still a very present and silent killer in our province’s homes and workplaces. Unfortunately, we see the impacts this hidden, yet very serious, health threat has on families who lose loved ones prematurely to diseases related to asbestos exposure.”

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WorkSafe says it’s “critical to test all home materials suspected of containing asbestos before starting any construction project or renovation.”

“With more Saskatchewanians working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners are at a greater risk of exposure to toxic construction materials, such as asbestos, during renovations or do-it-yourself (DIY) projects,” WorkSafe said in a press release Wednesday.

Read more: Asbestos, Quebec town once home to Canada’s largest asbestos mine, gets a new name

Developed in partnership with employer and labour representatives and then launched in 2019, WorkSafe’s three-year fatalities and serious injuries strategy is aimed at protecting and educating works on asbestos.

“The strategy prioritizes and addresses the safety of workers in high-risk industries and occupations, with the goal of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on the job,” WorkSafe said.

“Asbestos has been banned in Canada since Dec. 30, 2018, however asbestos was used in many common building materials before 1990 and its impact is still felt today. When asbestos is disturbed, such as during renovations, tiny fibres are released into the air and can cause severe – even fatal – lung diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.”

A range of asbestos resource materials for both companies and homeowners can be found at worksafesask.ca/asbestos.

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Saskatchewan family that lost loved one to cancer applauds proposed asbestos ban – Dec 16, 2016

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