New Brunswick health authority faces asbestos-related charges linked to hospital

Click to play video: 'Global News Morning New Brunswick: September 19'
Global News Morning New Brunswick: September 19
The online edition of Global News Morning with Paul Brothers and Eilish Bonang on Global New Brunswick – Sep 19, 2023

New Brunswick’s health authority is facing four workplace safety charges for potentially exposing some employees at a Fredericton hospital to asbestos.

WorkSafeNB confirms in an email that the charges against Horizon Health Network follow its investigation at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital and apply to a period from Nov. 7, 2017 to Oct. 6, 2022.

The agency says the employees were working at the hospital in a space between floors that is inaccessible to most other workers and to members of the public.

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It alleges the health authority failed to take “every reasonable precaution” by not identifying the presence of asbestos.

It also alleges that during the same period, the authority failed to adopt the code of practice for working with materials containing asbestos, failed to inform employees of the presence of asbestos and failed to acquaint employees with the hazards of handling asbestos.

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Jeff Carter, Horizon Health’s vice-president of capital assets, operations and infrastructure, declined comment because the matter is before the courts, but he stressed that there is no risk to patients or staff at the hospital.

WorkSafeNB also declined to give further details, but did say the maximum fine for violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is $250,000. It said the highest fine levelled to date in New Brunswick is $200,000.

The case will be in court on Oct. 16 for plea, the agency said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2023.

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