Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island


Asbestos is the common name given to six naturally occurring minerals made up of heat-resistant fibres. These fibres are split into thinner fibres, and at its finest, it can barely be seen under a microscope. In comparison, a strand of human hair is 300 times thicker than an asbestos fibre. These fibres tend to settle very slowly in the air and can be easily inhaled.

When workers are over-exposed to asbestos, they can develop asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.

Who is at Risk?

Asbestos can be found in material used for older buildings, and during inspection, demolition or renovation, workers can be prone to inhaling airborne asbestos. Worker groups that may be at risk include:
  • Building construction workers
  • Building inspectors
  • Road construction workers
  • Automotive mechanics - asbestos can be found in some car and truck brake pads, and vehicle transmission components, such as clutches.

Duties of Employers, Contractors and Owners

Employers, contractors, and owners all have responsibilities to make sure that exposure to asbestos is prevented and work is undertaken using proper safety procedures.

Exposure must be reduced to the lowest practical level and cannot exceed the established threshold limit values. Take all necessary measures including using engineering controls, work practices and hygiene practices.

Employers must:
  • Make sure that nobody uses, applies, or installs asbestos or asbestos containing material.
  • Make sure that nobody remediates, disturbs, or works with asbestos-containing material without using appropriate methods to contain the fibres and keep the contamination in the air to below the threshold limit values
  • When a material is suspected to contain asbestos, it is treated as though it does until a competent person determines that it is free of asbestos.
  • Make sure that before the demolition of a building, structure, all or part of machinery, equipment, aircraft, vehicle or vessel, all material that could release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere are removed.
The asbestos contractor must make sure all asbestos work is done so that it does not create a risk to the health or safety of any worker or other person.

Learn more about managing asbestos and limiting exposure:

Guides: Fact Sheet: Printable Posters: Forms and Checklists: If you would like to learn more about other health and safety matters in your workplace, please contact us or visit our resources webpage.