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5. Restrictions

  • 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.

The Regulation prohibits the application or installation, by spraying, of material containing 0.1 per cent or more asbestos by dry weight that can become friable and the application or installation of material containing 0.1 per cent or more of asbestos by dry weight as thermal insulation if it may become friable.

Subsection 4(3) of the Regulation prohibits the application of a liquid sealant to friable ACM under certain conditions if the material has visibly deteriorated or is no longer able to support its weight and the weight of the sealant.

What are the restrictions on sprayed material?

The spray application of insulation that contains asbestos can generate high airborne levels of asbestos and may present a hazard to the workers who apply the material. Moreover, if the material is friable or can become friable, there will be a continuing hazard to demolition, renovation, maintenance and custodial workers who may have to deal with it in the future. In addition, the presence of asbestos-containing insulation in a building may require an on-going management program to protect the occupants of the building.

It is because of these ongoing problems and the ready availability of substitutes that the spray application of material containing 0.1 per cent or more asbestos by dry weight that can become friable is prohibited.

It should be noted, however, that there are conditions imposed on this prohibition. It applies only to materials that can become friable. Some ACM, such as automotive undercoatings can be applied by spraying because they do not become friable and release fibres.

What are the restrictions on the application of thermal insulation?

Asbestos-containing pipe and boiler insulation can cause the same kinds of problems as those associated with sprayed materials containing asbestos. While the installation of pipe and boiler insulation may not be as hazardous as the spray application of materials containing asbestos, the heat from the pipe or boiler causes the installed insulation to become increasingly fragile. The removal of old insulation could therefore generate more dust than the original installation. Damage to, or deterioration of, the insulation could also endanger building occupants. It is because of this continuing hazard that the further installation of such materials is prohibited.

As with sprayed materials, the prohibition is limited to insulation containing 0.1 per cent or more asbestos by dry weight that may become friable.

What are the restrictions on sealants?

Sealants or bonding agents are materials that can be applied to ACM, particularly thermal insulation, to prevent the release of fibres. This is commonly referred to in the industry as "encapsulation". There are two types of sealant:

  • Penetrants penetrate and harden the material; and
  • Bridging sealers produce a tough, impermeable coating on the surface.

Although encapsulation can be a practical method to control the release of asbestos fibres, certain limitations make it useful in a relatively small number of cases. Situations where a sealant must not be used are spelled out in subsection 4(3) of the Regulation.

Why are the limits different?

The restriction on the application of sprayed-on material or thermal insulation starts at 0.1 per cent, yet the rest of the Regulation only applies when the asbestos content is 0.5 per cent or more.

The two limits are not related. The 0.5 per cent applies to existing materials that meet the definition of ACM.

The 0.1 per cent limit applies specifically to new material to be sprayed or new thermal insulation to be installed and represents the concentration at which asbestos must be reported on material safety data sheets under the existing federal Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation.

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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.