This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply and enforce these laws based on the facts they find in the workplace.

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 In November 2005, Regulation 838 was revoked and replaced by O. Reg. 278/05.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.