The Pembroke Regional Hospital has been fined $60,000 for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act after workers were not protected against asbestos exposure.

The hospital west of Ottawa pleaded guilty to four violations of the act after maintenance workers drilled into a wall and ceiling that contained asbestos. The hospital was fined $15,000 for each violation.

In one instance in October 2011, workers only wore masks to cover their mouths and noses as they were not told there was asbestos in the wall and they were not trained on how to handle the hazards.

The drill also was not equipped with a HEPA filter, which would help limit the exposure.

In a second incident in the spring of 2012, workers drilled into a ceiling and removed ceiling tiles but they were not alerted to the material which possibly contained asbestos.

As a result, none of the employees took precautions to protect themselves or other workers in the area.

No knowledge of asbestos work

The Ministry of Labour also discovered the supervisor who assigned that task did not know how to identify work that could include asbestos.

The hospital pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that:

  • Workers were provided with information about the presence of asbestos.
  • Workers were properly trained to work in an area containing asbestos material.
  • A competent supervisor was appointed, with respect to the workplace.
  • Appropriate measures and procedures were used to protect workers from possible contact with asbestos-containing materials.

The court also imposed a 25 per cent victim surcharge, which is required under a provincial act. That money goes to a fund for victims of crime.