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Asbestos Violators Face Stiff Punishment Around The World

Over the past few decades the awareness of the dangers that asbestos poses to people’s health have become apparent. While it has been known since the mid-1960s that the inhalation of this naturally occurring mineral could cause lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer, it has only been in recent years that authorities have begun to punish asbestos violators to the fullest extent of the law.

Such is the case in British Columbia, where the Canadian province’s workplace health and safety agency, WorkSafeBC, is hoping to put a contractor who allegedly exposed his employees to asbestos behind bars.

WorkSafeBC Investigation of AM Environmental

WorkSafeBC is hoping to jail Arthur Moore of AM Environmental for allegedly ignoring an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court ordering him to stop asbestos removal activities because an investigation had revealed that he may have been faking certifications to show houses that contained asbestos were clear of the carcinogenic substance.

One of the first alleged misdeeds uncovered by WorkSafeBC’s investigation involved an incident in Vancouver when Moore submitted a report that said that there was no “asbestos in the plaster and the vinyl flooring … and it is safe to demolish this dwelling.” In addition, Moore’s report allegedly said that nearly two dozen samples had been submitted to Powertech Labs for testing.

Powertech Labs Denies Authenticity of Asbestos Report

Powertech Labs denied the authenticity of the report indicating that no asbestos was present.  According to papers filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) stated.

“The report was forwarded to Powertech Labs who advised it had not been issued by them and was a forgery”

It is vital that all asbestos is accounted for before demolition projects take place as such work can allow for the release of the deadly mineral fiber into the air.

WCB Explains Moore’s Involvement

The report from the WCB further explained how Moore’s allegedly fraudulent report put people’s lives at risk.

“If the property had been demolished pursuant to the respondent’s fraudulent report, workers would have been exposed to asbestos,” the WCB said. “The respondent continues to operate his business and advertise his services as a consultant in violation of the Act and Regulation and continues to put workers at risk of industrial disease and death.”

Results of WCB’s Report

The investigation resulted in Moore being told to stop asbestos abatement activities last August but he allegedly continued working on more than a dozen demolitions projects in the following months.

Specifically, WorkSafeBC wants Moore to spend 120 days in jail for contempt of court.

Punishment for Asbestos Violations: The UK

Canada is not the only country where people are punished for not following asbestos regulations, as two construction companies in the UK recently found out.

Mansell Construction Services Ltd. and Woodlands Plant Hire Ltd., a sub-contractor, were fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s federal workplace safety agency, for not properly managing asbestos.

The violations took place during renovation work in late 2009 and involved the removal of asbestos-containing insulation board by an employee not licensed to handle the substance.

Both companies pleaded guilty to the asbestos violations and were fined £50,000 each.

“Despite recent high profile campaigns on the dangers of working with asbestos, this case sadly illustrates some companies are still failing to manage the risks robustly,” HSE Inspector Dominic Ellis said in a release. “Mansell had information that asbestos was present, yet neglected to act on it, meaning a licensable asbestos material was removed in an uncontrolled manner, needlessly risking the health of contractors and members of the public.”

Asbestos-related illnesses are believed to cause about 107,000 deaths each year around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

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