Employees in British Columbia benefit from laws set in place for their protection while on the job. For those engaged in one of the province's most hazardous careers - asbestos removal - questions about enforceability have been an ongoing concern. A new ruling has now given workers new hope in a business where the risk of fatal workplace accidents remains high.
In February 2016, the B.C. Supreme Court determined that the laws set by WorkSafeBC to protect asbestos removal workers were too large and complicated to enforce.
A year later, the Court of Appeal overturned that ruling, along with another that threw out a contempt of court application against a company alleged to have repeatedly violated asbestos removal laws.
The judges decided that any person or company engaged in asbestos removal work does so with the explicit understanding that they will be bound by strict regulations. The regulations were admitted to be complex, but this was deemed necessary for the protection of workers.
A spokesperson from the BC Insulators Union said that asbestos caused 42 workplace fatalities in British Columbia in 2015, and was the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the province.
The decision is a big win for asbestos workers in B.C. Workers can now head to work knowing that the laws of the province are in place to protect them from harm.
In spite of legal advancements, though, no law can completely remove the possibility of a workplace accident. Individuals who suffer injury due to a workplace accident are wise to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with labour and employment law.