City fined for breach of safety and health act

Court imposed stiff fine based on the seriousness of asbestos exposure; no employee suffered injury
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The City of Winnipeg was charged with an offence under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to establish a system to ensure that all of its workers were not exposed to asbestos, a designated material. The charge arose as a result of contractors being exposed to asbestos while repairing fallen tiles.

The asbestos had been originally installed in the mid-1970s to remedy a problem with excessive noise at a swimming pool. The ceiling of the pool was coated with an acoustic damping insulation material that contained asbestos. That material was covered and sealed by a substance to encapsulate the asbestos. A suspended tile ceiling was attached below the primary ceiling, anchored to the primary ceiling by eye hooks and wire.

Over time the anchors corroded and failed, causing the material containing the asbestos to crumble and fall onto the tiles of the suspending ceiling. The deterioration became evident when, in 1999, two tiles from the suspended ceiling fell into the middle of the swimming pool.