MANAGEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
General Information Session March 21, 2002
UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA A SAFE PLACE TO WORK AND STUDY?
The University of Manitoba recognizes its responsibility to provide a
safe and healthy workplace and is taking all measures necessary to ensure
that staff and students are not exposed to asbestos fibres.
testing by Workplace Safety and Health (March 16, 2002) and by Pinchin
Environmental Ltd. (March 13, 2002) in the Fletcher Argue, Tier, Isbister
and Elizabeth Dafoe Library Buildings indicated that there is no health
risk from asbestos to day-to-day activities in those buildings. Air testing
will continue throughout all University of Manitoba buildings on both
the Bannatyne and Fort Garry campuses to ensure the safest possible environment.
rooms, one in Fletcher Argue and the other in Tier, where tests showed
some asbestos in dust that had been removed with a "scraping"
method are currently being scheduled for cleaning. Other mechanical rooms
will be tested as soon as possible. Mechanical rooms contain machinery
and have access restricted to authorized University trades personnel only.
PEOPLE EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS?
People are exposed to asbestos by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. Asbestos
Containing Materials (ACM) which can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced
to powder by hand pressure are known as friable asbestos. When friable
Asbestos Containing Materials are damaged or disturbed they can release
fibres into the air and people who may come in contact with them are at
risk of inhaling fibres. As long as Asbestos Containing Materials remain
undisturbed and asbestos fibres are not released into the air, there is
no hazard to people coming in contact with the materials.
THIS ISSUE COME TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION AT THIS TIME?
Concerns have been raised recently about possible exposure to asbestos
on campus, one concern dealing with the Stores Building, which has been
addressed by the University, and another with a possible exposure at least
thirty years ago. The University, in cooperation with the Workplace Safety
and Health Division of Manitoba Labour, has investigated the concerns
and is taking action to address the issues. Our most immediate focus has
been to ensure that current staff and students are protected from any
UNIVERSITIES AND SIMILAR INSTITUTIONS HAVE TO DEAL WITH ASBESTOS CONTAINING
Most buildings that are more than 20 years old contain asbestos in one
form or another. This includes government and municipal buildings, schools,
financial institutions, etc. Most universities in North America are faced
with the same concerns about asbestos as our University, unless they are
very new. The University of Manitoba's asbestos control program is similar
to that of other institutions.
WE KNOW WHERE ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS ARE LOCATED AT THE UNIVERSITY?
It must be assumed that almost all buildings on campus contain Asbestos
Containing Materials in one form or another. Comprehensive building audits
have been completed for 26 of the buildings on the Fort Garry and Bannatyne
campuses and the plan is to complete the audit process by June 30, 2002.
ARE PERFORMED AT THE UNIVERSITY FOR ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS?
- The University conducts bulk sample analysis of any material that
is suspected of being an Asbestos Containing Material. This is usually
done when there is the potential disturbance of a suspected Asbestos
Containing Material, for example, when renovation or maintenance work
- The University normally conducts air monitoring when there is suspected
disturbance of Asbestos Containing Materials and concern for exposure
to asbestos fibres in air. Such testing will continue in the future.
- When asbestos is removed by an asbestos abatement contractor, testing
is again undertaken by an external consultant to ensure that the removal
has been completely successful.
- For the full assurance of a safe work and study environment, the University
of Manitoba is committed to conducting air monitoring in all University
of Manitoba buildings on both campuses by June 30, 2002.
ARE IN PLACE NOW TO ENSURE THAT STAFF AND STUDENTS ARE NOT EXPOSED TO
FRIABLE ASBESTOS IN THE FUTURE?
- Publicly accessible high traffic areas are being examined to ensure that all
Asbestos Containing Materials are in proper condition and not subject
to damage or deterioration.
- The University
is conducting air monitoring of all buildings on campus with a target
completion date of June 30, 2002 to determine if there is any indication
of asbestos in air.
- The University
will complete an overall preliminary inventory of all buildings on campus
with a target date of June 30, 2002. This inventory will identify which
buildings present the higher risk of exposure to friable asbestos for
further, more comprehensive auditing.
- The University
is in the process of consolidating all the elements already in place
into a documented and comprehensive Asbestos Management Program. The
development of the Asbestos Management Program will include the participation
of the campus community.
WHO WORK IN BUILDINGS THAT CONTAIN ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS MORE
AT RISK OF DEVELOPING ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASE THAN THOSE WHO DO NOT?
medical and epidemiological literature indicates that people who do not
work with asbestos, only work in buildings where asbestos is present as
a building material, are not at any risk for asbestos-related disease
greater than the general public.
BE TESTED FOR ASBESTOS EXPOSURE?
consultation with Dr. Allen Kraut, an Occupational Health Specialist with
the Manitoba Federation of Labour, the University is in the process of
developing a surveillance program for its staff. A proper research study
of individuals at possible risk at certain time periods will be developed
by individuals with the appropriate epidemiologic expertise. There is
no specific test to measure asbestos in the body. Medical surveillance
programs have been developed to determine whether workers show any effects
of asbestos exposure. These programs involve taking a work history and
a chest radiograph and lung function test. The University of Manitoba
is committed to accommodating anyone who feels they should be included
in the medical surveillance program.
WHY WAS THE STORES BUILDING EVACUATED AND CLEANED UP?
was done as a precautionary measure because there were indications that
there may have been a deterioration of the enclosure system for the asbestos
in the ceiling directly above the work area that was installed in 1990.
The dust samples taken prior to the cleanup indicated low levels of asbestos
monitoring of fibres in the air were below the threshold for taking any
required remedial action.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAKING DUST SAMPLES AND CONDUCTING AIR MONITORING
sample is only useful as an indicator of the possible presence of asbestos
in a building. By itself, it says nothing about the risk for inhalation
exposure. There are no recognized occupational standards for asbestos
indicates if asbestos fibres are in the air and in concentrations high
enough to be of concern. Air monitoring conducted by the University and
external consultants has indicated levels well below the occupational
exposure limit established by Provincial authorities.
HOW IS ASBESTOS HANDLED WHEN RENOVATIONS AND MAINTENANCE WORK IS DONE
ON CAMPUS BUILDINGS?
major building modifications, additions, etc. are planned, comprehensive
asbestos audits are undertaken prior to the work to determine the location
of Asbestos Containing Materials. If Asbestos Containing Materials are
found, they are normally completely removed by an asbestos abatement contractor
under controlled conditions prior to any construction activity.
has developed safe work practices and procedures for maintenance and repair
work undertaken by University maintenance staff. The University has adopted
the Workplace Safety and Health Guideline "Guidelines for Working
With Asbestos" and all work procedures must conform to this standard.
YOU DO IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT ASBESTOS?
you have concerns regarding any potential exposure to asbestos, please
discuss this with your supervisor or department head. The Environmental
Health and Safety Office (EHSO) may be contacted at 474-6633 at any time
for assistance and advice on this issue.
I KEEP INFORMED OF WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE ASBESTOS ISSUE?
University plans to provide regular updates on the status of activities
with the asbestos program.