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The sale, import and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products has been prohibited by the federal government since December 30, 2018. The federal regulations do not apply to tailings that contain asbestos, with some exceptions. Asbestos can also be found in pre-ban materials and products. If these materials or products are in poor condition or have to be worked or handled, asbestos fibres may become detached from them.

On construction sites, several tasks can expose workers to asbestos dust. Examples include the removal of interior finishing’s (plaster, rough plaster, stucco, insulation, etc.) containing asbestos or the cutting and drilling of vinyl tiles containing asbestos.

In an establishment, for example, a worker may be exposed to asbestos dust in a process plant that uses asbestos-containing tailings.

Exposure to asbestos dust can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung or laryngeal cancer. These diseases can lead to respiratory disorders ranging from shortness of breath on exertion to severe respiratory failure.

The employer is responsible for implementing preventive measures. Several of these measures are required in the presence of asbestos dust, such as wetting materials, a ventilation system, delimitation of the work area, protective clothing and respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

Safety rules

 Zero tolerance 

If any of these rules are not followed, the CNESST will stop the work and those at fault will be liable to criminal prosecution.

Zero tolerance sheet : Asbestos

To reduce workers' exposure to asbestos dust, the employer must :

Other preventive measures

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures must be taken by the employer to ensure the health of the worker:

Protective measures

Respiratory protective equipment (French only)
Protective clothing (French only)

Materials that may contain asbestos

Some construction materials may contain asbestos. Asbestos may have been added during manufacture or the materials may contain asbestos naturally. These materials include:

  • heat-insulating materials
  • flocking
  • fibre cement materials (exterior cladding panels, soffit panels, pipes, etc.)
  • plaster, stucco, rough plaster and other decorative finishes
  • vinyl floor tiles on cement board and their adhesives
  • ceiling tiles and their adhesives and suspended ceiling panels
  • gypsum panels and joint compounds
  • asphalt roof shingles and roofing felt
  • various insulating materials (boiler, ventilation duct) and vermiculite insulation

The presence of asbestos is rarely indicated on a material containing asbestos.

Materials that do not contain asbestos
  • Wood, natural stone, marble, sandstone, glass, plastic and metals
  • Gypsum panels and joint compounds manufactured by North American companies since January 1, 1980
  • Flocking installed in buildings and civil engineering structures since February 15, 1990
  • Heat-insulating materials installed in buildings and civil engineering structures since May 20, 1999
How to check if a material contains asbestos

Québec regulations require that all materials likely to contain asbestos be presumed to contain asbestos unless otherwise demonstrated. To check whether a material contains asbestos:

  • do laboratory tests on a sufficient number of representative samples
  • inquire with the client, who will have done these tests himself
  • consult a technical data sheet or a data sheet that shows the composition of the material
Decontamination area
Decontamination area