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1. Introduction

  • Issued: November 2007
  • Content last reviewed: May 2011

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

History of the Regulation

Long recognized as a serious occupational health hazard, asbestos was one of the first designated substances to be regulated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act). The Regulation respecting Asbestos, Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 570/82, was filed with the Registrar of Regulations on August 20, 1982. Construction projects were excluded from the application of this Regulation. It was the ministry's intention at the time to cover the construction industry in a second regulation that would prescribe procedures for controlling asbestos exposure.

Before development of the asbestos regulation for the construction industry could be completed, the Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos in Ontario tabled its report in the legislature. The Commission recommended that the procedural approach planned for the control of asbestos exposures in the construction industry be extended to activities that involve building maintenance and custodial work. The Commission also considered O. Reg. 570/82 inappropriate for certain repair operations. The Commission's recommendations were accepted, and on December 16, 1985 the Regulation respecting Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations, O. Reg. 654/85, subsequently R.R.O. 1990 Regulation 838, was filed. In November 2005, Regulation 838 was revoked and replaced by O. Reg. 278/05.

Highlights of the Regulation

Most of O. Reg. 278/05 came into effect on November 1, 2005, and the remaining sections came into force on November 1, 2007. This Regulation contains significant changes in methods and procedures relative to the previous Regulation, including:

  • new requirements for clearance air testing,
  • a definition of asbestos-containing material, or ACM,
  • methods and procedures for determining whether building materials meet the definition of ACM,
  • maintenance of negative air pressure inside enclosures,
  • additional requirements for training,
  • procedures for the use of glove bags, and
  • a new equivalency provision authorizing the constructor/employer to vary from measures and procedures set out in the Regulation if specified conditions, such as notice of the varied measures to the JHSC, are met.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.