WorkSafe Saskatchewan is alerting the public of the dangers of asbestos exposure for workers. Along with an online campaign, the agency is hosting informational displays at Home Depots in Regina and Saskatoon featuring personal testimonial videos and an interactive survey. The goal is to help homeowners and tradespeople identify where asbestos may be present in their homes and workplaces.
“Many people don’t realize they might have asbestos in their building and homes and could be inadvertently exposed to the substance during renovations,” said Kevin Mooney, the WCB’s interim vice-president of prevention and employer services. “Lack of identification and improper handling of asbestos before and during construction projects are causing unnecessary asbestos exposure. Our goal is to minimize that exposure, which becomes hazardous when it’s disturbed.”
Asbestos-related diseases remain the leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan, accounting for 42 per cent of all work-related deaths reported to the WCB in 2018. Occupational disease-related diseases are typically diagnosed years after exposure (10 to 40 years)
When asbestos is disturbed, by removing building materials during a renovation project, asbestos fibres are released into the air and can be inhaled into the lungs. Some common building materials containing asbestos include plaster, pipe insulation, floor tiles, drywall joint compound, fireproofing and acoustic ceiling tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, popcorn ceiling or stipple ceiling, loose, blown-in insulation and wire insulation. This can cause asbestosis and increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos fibres are invisible, so people can inhale them without even knowing it.
“Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable,” said Mooney. “Before any contractors and homeowners begin renovation work, they should hire a professional abatement team to identify and remove asbestos from a home or workplace.”