Asbestos lands Pembroke Regional Hospital in hot water
By Anthony Capkun
February 27, 2013 – Ontario’s Pembroke Regional Hospital Inc. was fined a total of $60,000 for violations of the Occupational Health & Safety Act after workers were not adequately protected against asbestos exposure.
In October 2011, maintenance workers at the hospital drilled holes into a wall that was assumed to have asbestos in its drywall joint compound. The drill was not equipped with a HEPA filter and, while the workers were wearing masks, no other precautions were taken to protect them and other workers in the area from asbestos exposure.
Also, the workers were not told they would be working in an area containing asbestos, and they were not trained on the hazards of asbestos, the personal hygiene to be observed around the substance, or the care and disposal of protective equipment worn while doing the work.
Upon investigation, the Ministry of Labour also found the supervisor who assigned the task did not have the required knowledge, training or experience to identify work that could expose workers to asbestos, nor ensure the required safety measures and procedures were followed.
In a separate incident at the hospital between March and April, 2012, workers drilled into a ceiling and removed ceiling tiles where friable material could have been laying. The workers were not given notice that the area they worked in could have asbestos-containing material, and they took no precautions to protect themselves or other workers in the area.
The hospital pleaded guilty as an owner to failing to ensure workers were provided with information about the presence of asbestos, and that they were properly trained to work in an area containing asbestos material. The hospital also pleaded guilty as an employer to failing to ensure a competent supervisor was appointed, and that appropriate measures and procedures were used to protect workers from possible contact with asbestos-containing materials.