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Asbestos: collective action

View the notice to members of the collective action regarding claims against U.S. trusts and funds for asbestos-related injuries.

Regulatory changes

  • New regulations on asbestos are applicable since April 28, 2022. They concern work methods allowing the reduction of dust levels on construction sites.

For more information, see decree 645-2022 on the amendments to the Safety Code for construction work

  • A new permissible exposure value for all types of asbestos, which will reduce worker exposure, will come into effect on October 28, 2022.

For more information, see decree 644-2022 and decree 646-2022 on amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

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 (in French only)

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


In an establishment, the employer must take the required steps to control the emission of asbestos dust before undertaking work on asbestos-containing materials or products, including flocking and heat-insulating materials. In this respect, the employer has the same obligations as those set out for construction sites.

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  (in French only)
Protective clothing (in 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

The double locker room adjoining a contaminated work area is a method for staying safe from various contaminants.

Affichette Vestiaire double contigu à une zone de travail contaminée