WorkSafeBC has ordered the Regional District of Central Kootenay to prepare an asbestos inventory of all of its facilities.
The directive comes after vermiculite was discovered in the walls of the Castlegar recreation complex recently, although a consultant said it did not pose a health risk.
According to the WorkSafe inspection report, the incident “illustrates the employer did not prepare an appropriate and complete inventory of all asbestos-containing materials in the workplace.”
The workplace watchdog said that’s a contravention of occupational health and safety regulations and gave the regional district 30 days from February 3 to put in writing how it plans to comply with the order.
“The amounts are considered minor but the real issue was our lack of knowledge that the insulation did contain asbestos,” regional district administrator Jim Gustafson wrote in a memo to the board.
He said their advice from the BC Employers’ Council was to comply with the order now and grieve it later if they so desire.
“We don’t have much choice [to comply],” he said.
RDCK chair John Kettle says he was initially concerned the inventory could cost millions if they were required to drill into walls and follow it up with remediation.
However, it appears the inventory can be conducted over two years and there is no immediate requirement for remediation.
Still, Kettle wonders if they are being singled out.
“We want to make sure this isn’t a one-off,” he said. “We want to question the applicability of this statute to our buildings and the related cost.
“Once we find out, we are certainly going to comply with the order and move forward judiciously, making sure it doesn’t cost us a fortune.”
The regional district’s health and safety officer was in discussions this morning with WorkSafeBC, which Kettle hoped would clarify what is required of them in the short and long term.
Kettle added he has never heard of other regional districts receiving similar orders, and wonders if the province itself maintains such inventories.
“We’ll meet the order regardless, but may question it afterward if it’s different than what other regional districts or the province do.”