Asbestos, mould problems may close addictions treatment centre for women
Same complex, different building, where two workers were beaten last month
Behavioural Health Foundation, the addictions treatment centre that saw two people assaulted at its Breezy Point location last month, is now dealing with more workplace safety issues: mould and asbestos.
The BHF board is meeting Wednesday and will consider whether the women and infants living at the 10-bed facility for treatment will be relocated and the facility closed.
But the executive director thinks the women should be moved.
"We know at this point, we do not have the $150,000 to repair it," said executive director Jean Doucha. "We need to move the women out."
The centre is the same one where two workers were assaulted in May, leaving a student worker blind in one eye. The assaults happened on the same property, but in a different building that housed boys. The boys' facility faced a funding shortfall and Doucha said it has since closed.
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At the women's building, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) issued an improvement order March 14 saying "asbestos containing material has or is likely to become airborne in the workplace and an asbestos control plan has not been developed."
By April 25, BHF had submitted an asbestos control plan to WSH and was in compliance with the order.
WSH responded: "Please ensure you continue to address the action items noted by the consultant in the plan, until all ACM (asbestos containing material) is in good condition, the mould has been re-mediated in full and the source of the water intrusion is corrected."
BHF hired a consultant and a contractor to fix problems in the building near Selkirk, which was damaged by heavy wind and rain in a storm last August.
Potential health risk noted
In a previous improvement order dated Aug. 27, 2015, WSH noted "Conditions observed in the workplace indicated the potential for the growth of mould. Worker exposure to mould or mould toxins in the workplace is or may be creating a risk to health.
"The employer must assess all information that is practicably available to the employer respecting the growth of mould that may be present in the workplace. The assessment must take place in consultation with the workers at the workplace," the report said.
Doucha said plastic sheets called "hoarding" have been installed in the building to keep any hazardous material out of the air in areas of the building being used by the women. She said asbestos was found in the drywall and in the ceiling insulation.
Doucha added that she is not aware of any health problems being detected by a public health inspector who visited the site last month.
Proper procedures followed
A spokesperson for Manitoba Health confirmed the organization has not detected any health problems.
"The inspector confirmed that the building does have asbestos, but that there has been an asbestos survey indicating where the asbestos is located and that all proper procedures for handling and remediation have been followed," the spokesperson said.
"In light of this information, and as long as the repair work continues, there are no concerns from Public Health regarding the safety of this facility."
Doucha said BHF has already spent an estimated $225,000 replacing the roof and conducting remediation for mould and asbestos — something its board will deal with Wednesday night.
She said BHF addressed the problems related to water damage in the women's building once they became known.
"We can't fix what we don't know exists," she said. "It wasn't until the last August storm that we realized we had mould and asbestos in the building, but since that time we have certainly taken every precaution possible to ensure the safety of our clients and our staff and guests."
The 2015 improvement order was not the first one to raise issues about mould in the BHF women's facility.
A June 2013 WSH improvement order said: "Control measures have not been implemented to prevent a worker from exposure to mould or mould toxins at a concentration in excess of the occupational exposure limit…. Exposure to mould or mould toxins may adversely affect worker health."
The 2013 order went on to say BHF should find all the mould and hire qualified personnel to remove it.
Doucha said BHF met the requirements of the 2013 order and made necessary repairs to the roof without replacing it entirely.