WorkSafe BC has issued a stop work order halting the demolition and removal of existing buildings at the site of the proposed George Hotel and Residences in Gibsons, citing a lack of proper measures to determine if there was any asbestos contamination.
The stop work order applied to the developer Klaus Fuerniss Enterprises and the demolition contractor Universal Land Services.
Asbestos was used in some building materials, in particular drywall, before it was phased out in the early ’90s. According to WorkSafe, “If performed incorrectly, demolitions can create harmful asbestos exposures to a variety of workers.”
Reports provided by WorkSafe say the worksite, spanning 409, 397 and 385 Gower Point Rd., was inspected on Aug. 9.
The reports say the building at 409 Gower Point Rd. has been demolished but the materials were still on site; 397 Gower Point Rd. has been partially stripped of drywall, insulation and other materials; and no demolition has been done at 385 Gower Point Rd. It also notes one load of drywall and other material has already been removed from the site.
WorkSafe determined that the hazardous material surveys submitted by the companies were not acceptable because “the sampling technique, walk-through survey and number of representative bulk samples collected were not consistent with recognized industry standards and principles of good occupational hygiene practice.”
The report goes on to say that, as a result, there were “reasonable grounds to believe there is a high risk of serious injury, serious illness or death to a worker at this workplace.”
As well as shutting down work, WorkSafe required the area to be isolated by barricades or fencing or some other measure to prevent access.
WorkSafe will allow the demolitions to resume once a qualified hazardous materials consultant completes a detailed risk assessment of the buildings and the bin of drywall already removed from the site.
If the assessment finds any asbestos contaminated material, the developer will have to bring in a qualified “abatement contractor” to handle the cleanup before work continues.