Recent amendments to the Regulation respecting occupational
health and safety (the Regulation) came into force in Quebec on
June 6, 2013. Asbestos is a recognized carcinogen that presents
considerable health risks to those who are exposed to it. While the
new amendments are not the first attempt to regulate exposure to
asbestos, they represent an increased effort to establish more
The Regulation generally places the onus on the employer (not
the property owner) to comply with the new rules. Employers have
several new responsibilities:
Duty to Inspect: An employer must inspect certain buildings
(depending on their construction date) under its authority to
locate asbestos containing materials. This inspections must be
repeated every two years.
Duty to Repair: If the inspection reveals that asbestos
containing materials are not in a good state of repair or are
liable to emit asbestos fibres, the employer has an obligation to
remove it, enclose it in a permanent structure, coat it with or
soak it in a binder, or cover it with materials resistant to
Duty to Keep Registrar: Employers have to keep a registrar
containing information on asbestos containing materials, including
the results of the required inspections.
Flocking, heat insulating materials and other materials that
traditionally contained asbestos (such as ceiling tiles, vinyl
tiles, caulking, etc.) are presumed to contain asbestos, unless the
employer can demonstrate otherwise. Proof to refute the presumption
may be based on documentation showing that materials were installed
after the specified dates in the Regulation or by providing a
report prepared by a laboratory participating in an
inter-laboratory quality control program.
As practical advice, employers who are tenants should try to
impose an obligation on the landlord pertaining to asbestos and
require a representation regarding the absence of asbestos. On the
other hand, landlords should consider carrying out the required
inspections (an ensuing work) to ensure they are done properly.
Whether costs can be passed along to tenants will depend on the
wording of the lease.
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