University’s Handling of Asbestos

University’s Handling of Asbestos a Cause for Concern

About a year after the University of Toronto was found to have mishandled asbestos in its medical sciences building, faculty, staff, and students are still concerned about their safety, reports the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

University’s Handling of Asbestos a Cause for ConcernFaculty at the busy university has been very critical of how the administration has handled the whole asbestos situation, noting that they are still not being properly informed about any asbestos abatement work being done at the college.

They also say that they never truly learned what went wrong last year with the abatement work at the medical sciences building.

Furthermore, they claim that their concerns are related not only to the medical sciences facility but to all three campuses.

“U of T — like most universities in Canada — is grappling with the legacy of asbestos-containing materials in buildings that are now aging and requiring renovation work,” the newspaper opines. “This can entail abatement work, which can increase exposure risks. The situation at Canada’s largest university stands out, however, for its handling of a key health and safety issue.”

Laura Lozanski, occupational health and safety officer for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, claims that U of T is the “poster child for things that can go wrong.” She explains that the university “has stood out recently because of a lack of, and apparently continuing, appropriate consultation with the joint health and safety committee and the unions, and effective communication with everyone on campus regarding the issue.”

And that lack of information is frightening to those who spend their days and nights on the vast campus.

Furthermore, there’s been proof of plenty of breaches in regards to the handling of the toxic material.

After what was considered U of T’s worst asbestos breach early last year at the medical sciences facility, another incident occurred in July when a maintenance worker transported uncovered wheelbarrows full of asbestos materials through a basement corridor, and another happened in October when an asbestos-wrapped hot water pipe burst and caused the closing of a cafeteria due to the risk of asbestos contamination.

“We don’t feel safe. Personally, I don’t feel safe,” said Professor Adria Giacca. Though she believes that communication has improved since last year’s asbestos contamination debacle, she says that ongoing renovation mishaps in her building mean people “have lost confidence in management.”

Giacca’s classroom was one of those that tested positive for asbestos last March.