On March 19, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee approved legislation to regulate the amount of asbestos used in building materials and industrial facilities.
From the first Labor & Commerce reading to the governor’s signature, it took Senate Bill 6473 less than three months to be signed into law.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and recommended social distance, there was no signing event.
S.B. 6473 essentially prohibits the use of Asbestos-containing materials in new commercial and industrial facilities.
The law also extends to the renovation of current buildings. It requires industrial facility owners, who have asbestos-containing building materials in their plants, to identify and develop a plan for the management of the deadly fiber.
Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), the original sponsor of the bill, published a press release, which outlined the legislation’s implications regarding the labeling and disclosure of the amount of asbestos in a building material.
The previous law allowed building material to contain up to 1 percent of asbestos and did not require a label. This meant a traditional 80-pound bag of concrete, for instance, could contain up to 12.8 ounces of asbestos fibers and the bag was not required to disclose asbestos was used as an ingredient. In this scenario, the asbestos has the potential to contaminate the worker who is maxing the concrete, as well as the longer term implications of exposing the construction worker who is breaking up the concrete when it needs to be removed.
The new standards will lower the amount of asbestos used to 0.1 percent for disclosure purposes and will greatly affect the health and awareness of Washington construction workers.
“The use of these materials is a threat to construction workers and workers in industrial facilities,” said Stanford in a prepared statement. “This bill will improve safety in the workplace and place asbestos management requirements on industrial facilities similar to those used for public schools.”
Local 7 Business Manager Todd Mitchell, who is politically active in the Seattle and Washington State legislation initiatives said having members contract asbestos related diseases is a horrible legacy and hopefully is of their past.
“This law is our legacy to our Brothers and Sisters, by making working conditions safer, for this generation and all those that follow," Mitchell added.
The Insulators Union is dedicated to the health and safety of our members.