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Asbestos safety management: know your obligations!

Whether you own or rent your business premises, you are responsible for complying with the regulation on asbestos safety management. The CNESST has been enforcing this regulation since 2013 with the requirement that you establish an asbestos register.

What is an asbestos register?

The register of preventive asbestos management is used to identify, locate and verify materials in your company that contain or are likely to contain asbestos. The register also maintains an inventory of the work you have done to decontaminate or repair problematic materials and disclose all relevant information.

To fill in your register properly, you must inspect your business premises thoroughly so as to locate any materials presumed to contain asbestos – until you can prove the substance isn’t present.

The CNESST offers a register template to make this easier, as well as a list of the main materials and products likely to contain asbestos.

Main suspects: flocking and heat insulating materials!

During your inspection, pay particular attention to flocking and heat insulating materials, both of which are used in insulation procedures; they are especially likely to involve asbestos. There are special provisions that apply to these materials, including an inspection every two years.

  • Flocking is a mixture of friable materials applied by spraying in order to cover a given surface, most often for heat insulation.
  • A heat insulating material is a material that covers a facility or equipment, often pipes, to prevent heat loss.

 

Ceiling flocking, pipes covered with heat insulating material

 

My register is now set up. What do I do next?

After properly filling in your register, you must ensure that it is kept current and available to your employees and to their representatives who are working in your place of business.

Are you planning any construction work?

There are rules you must follow to ensure safe asbestos management if you are planning to carry out any work on your premises. For example, you must:

  • disclose relevant information to anyone who will undertake work that is likely to emit asbestos dust,
  • check for the presence of asbestos in any new material that you purchase (documentary evidence or sampling),
  • take the necessary steps to control dust emissions if asbestos is present,
  • record the relevant information in the register even if your materials do not contain asbestos, and
  • inform workers who may be exposed to asbestos dust prior to the start of construction and provide them training before the worksite is opened.

 

Under these conditions, asbestos presents no danger:

  • if the material is in good condition,
  • if the asbestos is encapsulated (e.g., in a column or wall),
  • if no work is performed on materials or products that do contain asbestos.

 

Still have questions about asbestos in the workplace? Consult the CNESST’s detailed guide and contact us. We can direct you to the right resources.