The primary goal of the study was to:
This study was initiated by the Ministry of Labour because of concerns about asbestos exposure in school buildings and the potential for increased risk of asbestos-related disease for custodial workers. Asbestos was widely used in Canada in the construction of public buildings including elementary and secondary schools. These buildings may have asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and although the exact amount is unknown, this may have created a potential hazard. If the ACM is not well managed or controlled, it may deteriorate and asbestos fibres may become airborne and settle onto surfaces. Asbestos fibres on surfaces are an indicator that asbestos is not controlled. An additional concern with settled dust containing asbestos is that routine housekeeping or maintenance work has the potential to expose workers. Little is known about how asbestos is managed in schools across the province.
We assessed custodial workers’ awareness of asbestos presence and management in schools through an online survey. All CUPE Ontario elementary and secondary school custodial and maintenance workers were invited via email to fill out the anonymous survey. The survey consisted of 26 yes or no, multiple choice and open-ended text response questions. The workers were asked about:
The online survey received 784 responses, of which 527 were eligible. Some of the key findings include:
Funding for this study was received from the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
OCRC Report: Awareness of asbestos hazards in schools, asbestos management plans and training among Ontario school custodial workers