Nova Scotia Housing Employee Fined for Tenant Asbestos Exposure

According to a CBC News report this week, “A worker at the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority has been fined $1,000 for failing to protect tenants in Whitney Pier apartments from asbestos.” The court decision was reached this week as the worker was said to have failed to inform his supervisor about any asbestos risk, as well as a failing to secure safe removal of the materials. CBC News reports that the worker in question was the health and safety coordinator for the Cape Breton Housing Authority in October 2005, and this infraction arose when one of his coworkers discovered some asbestos within the insulation of the Whitney Pier apartments. The materials were taken for sampling and confirmation. Although the man in question informed two maintenance workers of the asbestos, he failed to inform any of the tenants, the news source explains. Tenants within the Whitney Pier apartments found out six months after that asbestos material was present when an outside contractor discovered the materials, the article explains. According to the CBC, the Cape Breton Housing Authority was forced to respond by sealing off and removing asbestos from 80 units within the complex. The Canadian news source explains this asbestos information was kept secret from the director of the housing authority for nearly six months as well. The provincial judge who oversaw this case went on to say that Della Valle, the health and safety coordinator, “should have taken decisive action to protect fellow employees and the tenants of the buildings by contacting his supervisor with the information about the asbestos and by following up with the maintenance workers to see whether they had taken any action,” the CBC reports. Although asbestos was once a highly valued construction material throughout the world, it is known more recently for its connection to debilitating diseases. The material is now banned in a number of countries because exposure is tied to the onset of mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis. This is the second related fine to the case, the CBC explains, as some action was taken back in 2009. In that year, the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, which was the public housing monitor in the area, was fined $10,000 for failing to respond diligently to the discovery of asbestos, putting workers and tenants into harm’s way.
Reference:
  • CBC News Staff. (October 12, 2011) “Worker fined for not protecting tenants from asbestos.” Retrieved on October 12, 2011 from CBC News.
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