Court dismisses charges against asbestos contractor

Sun, Feb 28, 2016


Kathleen Ruff,

A judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court has dismissed a case brought by WorkSafe BC against an asbestos-removal company. Justice George Macintosh stated that the law protecting workers from asbestos harm (BC Workers’ Compensation Act) is too vague to be enforced.

Between 2007 and 2012, WorkSafeBC, which is responsible for enforcing the Workers’ Compensation Act, issued 237 notices against the BC company (Seattle Environmental Consulting Ltd.) for violating safety requirements with regard to asbestos and ordered the company to pay fines of more than of $200,000.

WorkSafeBC laid charges of contempt of court against the company for failure to comply with the numerous safety orders WorkSafeBC had issued. That case has now been dismissed. WorkSafeBC is considering whether to appeal.

Because of the political power of the asbestos industry, governments in Canada, as well as exporting asbestos harm overseas, have to date failed to protect workers and the Canadian population from asbestos harm or to provide proper compensation to those harmed by asbestos. Many harmed by asbestos are denied compensation because of unjust rules. Consequently, asbestos is the biggest cause of deaths of workers across Canada.

Canada’s policies on asbestos are inadequate and unjust. The situation has been made worse by the fact that, for the past decade, governments in power at the federal level and in BC have followed the pro corporate power agenda that has dominated much of the world and have implemented policies that disempower workers and undermine the human right to health and safety.

It is to be hoped that in Canada and around the world citizens wil put in power governments who believe that the public interest and the health of citizens and the planet should be empowered and put ahead of corporate profits.

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