Hazardous materials surveys are conducted to identify the presence of materials that are known to have adverse effects on building occupants. These surveys may also be performed to assess risks to construction workers during renovations or demolition of a building.
Materials of concern include PCBs in paint or in fluorescent light ballasts, lead in paint or plumbing solder and older styles of building materials that contain asbestos such as ceiling tile, vinyl flooring products, drywall mud, wall and pipe insulation, roofing felt and plaster. A Hazardous Material survey will also address other materials of concern such as ozone depleting substances, urea formaldehyde foam insulation, , mould or mercury (in thermostats and switches). Hazardous Material surveys pay particular attention to chemical (including hydrocarbons) storage and containment conditions both past and present within a building.
These surveys involve a detailed review of available information on previously identified or potential hazardous materials present in the buildings, an onsite visual examination and a hazardous material sampling and testing program. The end product of the survey is a report that identifies the presence or otherwise of potentially hazardous materials, the extent or quantity of such materials and recommendations concerning removal and disposal options.
An asbestos survey, is required by BC Regulation on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations for all buildings in which friable or non-friable building materials are present. Friable asbestos-containing materials (ACM) include those that can be crumbled and pulverized by hand pressure. Non-friable ACM are those that require tools to be broken and pulverized. Friable ACM most often found in buildings include: mechanical systems thermal insulation, fireproofing, soundproofing and other acoustic applications. Non-friable ACM include: drywall joint compounds, plasters, vinyl asbestos flooring materials, acoustic tiles, gaskets, putties, and caulks.
An asbestos survey is required to establish whether the materials present in the building contain asbestos and to delineate the location and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACM). An asbestos survey is based on a walk-through inspection and sampling of suspect building materials for asbestos. An assessment of relative risk of exposure to airborne asbestos takes place during the survey. Factors included in the assessment include:
- Type and amount of asbestos in ACM
- Friability and condition of ACM
- Condition of ACM
- Accessibility to building occupants
- The likelihood of disturbance by regular activities in the building.
The assessment of relative risk of exposure constitutes basis for recommendation of corrective action if such is deemed necessary. An Asbestos Survey Record constitutes part of an Asbestos Management Program which is required for all buildings where friable or non-friable ACM is present. A more extensive survey including intrusive inspections and encompassing all designated substances is necessary prior to a re-construction or demolition work.
Some buildings and many structures such as bridges are likely to contain paints with a substantial lead content. Lead may also be present in plumbing systems and other construction materials. The detrimental health effects caused by lead poisoning have been well documented and understood for many years. Ingestion and inhalation of dusts containing lead are the most common routes by which lead enters the body. Lead containing particulates can become airborne during renovations when old paints are removed, or by chipping and flaking of paint due to deterioration.
,Using in-situ analysis, we can quickly and accurately determine the presence of leaded paint, even in areas with multiple paint layers.
A Lead Survey Will
- Locate surfaces on which lead paint has been applied or where lead occurs in other materials
- Determine levels of lead present
- Assess accessibility and condition of the paint or other lead sources
- Assess potential exposure and health risk
- Recommend and provide appropriate control or abatement procedures required
- Establish a permanent record for use in the event of future renovation or demolition
The presence of microbial contamination (fungi or bacteria) in a building space represents a potential health hazard to occupants of the building or to construction workers during a renovation or demolition. Exposure to microbial contamination may cause health effects which can range from respiratory distress, and allergic reactions to potentially fatal diseases, such as Legionnaires’ disease (a pneumonia caused by bacteria).
We investigate for microbial contamination and will provide timely advice related to their presence. We consistently provides site and project-specific management and remediation options which meet regulatory standards and our clients’ fiscal and scheduling requirements.
Our assessments identify visible or hidden microbial contamination on any building material or space. Water incursions are frequently the source of unwanted mould growth. We uncover the source of the water damage and provide information regarding the scope of the problem and its resolution.
If you have a building where you suspect that mould growth is occurring, or microbial contamination is present, contact us today to provide a healthy, safe environment for your building occupants and maintenance staff.
Exposure Control Plans: Why is an Exposure Control Plan important?
The purpose of an Exposure Control Plan is to establish a system that will assure that all employees who have potential contact with hazardous materials are protected from these environmental agents. The plan is intended to reduce the risk of employees who may have exposure with asbesto,s or lead, and other potentially environmental materials during the performance of their duties.
Assistance with WorkSafeBC Compliance:
A WorkSafeBC occupational safety or hygiene officer may visit your worksite to conduct an inspection. Employers cannot obstruct an officer from carry out his/her duties. An officer has the right to:
- Enter workplaces unannounced. You cannot deny them entry to a workplace.
- Tour, observe and inspect the workplace.
- Ask that work process commence, or tools be used.
- Take photos.
- Interview workers.
- Inspect records.
- Attend relevant employer training.
- Remove items from the workplace for further investigation.
- Stop unsafe work.
We will assist you in all manners of WorkSafeBC compliance. From documentation to report filing.
Risk Assessment and Safe Work Procedure Development:
We will help establish Safe Work Practices/Safe Job Procedures for addressing significant hazards or for dealing with circumstances that may present other significant risks/liabilities for the company. We will reflect your company’s approach to controlling hazards.
Some regulations require employers to have written procedures/instructions for specific activities/conditions. The number of practices/procedures and the degree of detail will depend on the range of work activities your company performs. It is important that management and supervision are involved in the development of safe work practices and that they provide adequate training for workers likely to follow these practices.
Industrial Hygiene Monitoring / Exposure Control Monitoring:
Industrial hygiene monitoring also known as exposure monitoring is a process of evaluating and documenting employee potential exposures to biological, chemical and physical hazards. Monitoring can be qualitative, semi-quantitative or quantitative. Qualitative assessments involve observing the operation and the employee and noting the potential hazards. For each hazard the frequency and duration of the exposure is noted and the severity and probability of a negative outcome is estimated. Based on these assessments, determinations are made if further evaluation is necessary. Semi-quantitative exposure assessments involve mathematical models to predict exposures or the use of direct-reading instruments. There are limitations to both activities, but the information can be very valuable in determining if quantitative assessments should be conducted.
Health and Safety Compliance Audits:
Effective risk reduction strategies always take into account legal liabilities. But researching potential legal obligations can be an onerous task. When it comes to BC’s occupational health and safety training requirements this is especially true. The province’s Occupational Health & Safety Act and its regulations include literally hundreds of references pertaining to the employer’s duty to provide training, education and information to workers, supervisors and other workplace parties.
Hazardous Materials Management Program:
To prevent harming human health and the environment, it’s essential that hazardous waste is handled, stored, transported, treated and disposed of properly. Waste that is classified/defined as hazardous waste must be managed according to the rules and standards set out by the Environmental Management Act and the Hazardous Waste Regulation. Wastes may be “hazardous” for many different reasons:
- They are corrosive, ignitable, infectious, reactive and toxic (the “acute” hazard characteristics)
- They have the potential to harm human health or the environment in a subtle manner over long periods of time (the “chronic” hazards)
- They may range from paints, oils and solvents to acids, heavy metal-containing sludges and pesticides
- Ongoing collaboration with communities, public organizations, industry leaders and private agencies ensures that current technology and best practices guide the handling and disposal of hazardous waste.
Respiratory Protection Fit Testing and Training:
Any person who is required to wear a tight fitting face piece during the course of their normal day to day work duties, or any person who is required to wear a tight fitting face piece for emergency response activities should be fit tested to ensure an effective seal. Our respiratory fit test technicians will also address the proper donning and doffing of the respirator, how to perform seal checks, the care, use and maintenance of the respirator, the defining differences between N, R, and P-Series respirators, as well as half and full face piece respirators. Fit testing is a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell, or your reaction to an irritant chemical to detect leakage into the respirator face piece. Qualitative fit testing does not measure the actual fit of the respirator. Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based simply on subjective detection of the challenge agent into your face piece. The basic elements of the Respiratory Protection Program are:
- Education of employees on airborne hazards in the work place;
- Selection of appropriate respirators;
- Provision of respirator fit testing;
- Provision of training in the proper use of respiratory protection;
- Provision of appropriate procedures for cleaning, inspecting and storing;
- Provision of medical surveillance for workers using respiratory protection;
- Provision for evaluating the effectiveness of this program;
- Maintenance of training, fit testing, and medical surveillance records;
- Control and monitoring of external contractors performing work in environments that require the use of respiratory protection.