Case Management Canada: Passing on some relevant (and helpful) Information from the Saskatchewan WCB:

The article below has been released by the Sask WCB. It contains some very good information regarding the real risks of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan

WorkSafe Saskatchewan is urging contractors and homeowners to take the proper steps to protect themselves against the risks of asbestos exposure.

REGINA, SK, Sept. 10, 2020 – Many Saskatchewanians are staying close to home these days, which means construction projects, renovations and repairs are likely in full swing. WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, is urging contractors and homeowners to take the proper steps to protect themselves and others against the risks of asbestos exposure.

“Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of work-related deaths in Saskatchewan” says Kevin Mooney, vice-president of prevention and employer services at the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board. “That’s why WorkSafe launched a new awareness campaign ‘Asbestos kills. It’s best to test.’ We believe this message is critical as some continue to think asbestos is an issue of the past. It’s important for people to know that asbestos exposure continues to happen and is preventable.”

Asbestos is common in homes and commercial buildings built before 1990. It is commonly known that asbestos is found in insulation like vermiculite, but it can also be found in materials like vinyl flooring, popcorn or stipple ceilings and walls, acoustic tiles and drywall joint compound. It doesn’t matter how much or how little asbestos is present – once the tiny fibres are airborne, they can cause life-threatening diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

In 2019, almost 45 per cent of all work-related deaths in Saskatchewan were from asbestos exposure.

Testing for asbestos before commercial projects or home renovations begin is critical.

Wade Dieno, a 70-year old Chitek Lake resident knows all too well the dangers of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Diagnosed with stage three mesothelioma in Nov. 2019, doctors gave him 12-14 months to live. As a young man, Wade had pursued a career in the trades, starting in plumbing, and often worked around asbestos.

“I was like a lot of guys, especially in my younger days, and thought I was invincible. If I could go back in time, I’d wear every bit of PPE I could, especially when working around asbestos. Did I cut corners on safety to get my work done? Yes, I did. Do I wish I hadn’t? Yes, I do.”

Contractors and homeowners should never put themselves at risk by trying to remove asbestos themselves. If damaged asbestos-containing materials are not properly removed, they can endanger your life and the lives of others who come into contact with asbestos dust, fibres or raw asbestos materials.

When reflecting on his past, Wade knows the choices he made not to protect himself from the dangers of asbestos caught up to him eventually. “Oh sure, I was angry and bitter at first,” Wade says. “But really, what’s the point? In the end, it was me. I made the decisions [not to wear PPE] that cost me my future.”

“That’s why I’m telling my story now,” Wade said. “If I can prevent some young workers, even just one, from making the same mistakes I did, I suppose that would be a pretty good legacy to leave behind.”

“We want to remind and educate construction contractors and homeowners that asbestos remains a serious health threat,” says Mooney. “If you take the step to test for asbestos before starting any construction or renovation project, you can protect yourself and others from asbestos exposure.”

For more information including an asbestos abatement guide, free e-course and additional resources, please visit worksafesask.ca/asbestos.

Wade Dieno is available for interviews, health permitting, Sept. 10 between 1-4 p.m by phone.

Contact: Lisa Goudy

Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board

Phone306.787.6714

Emaillgoudy@wcbsask.com

Download the news release and backgrounder.

Backgrounder – Wade Dieno’s Story

Wade Dieno is available for interviews, health permitting. Please contact Lisa Goudy.

The dangers of asbestos exposure hit home for one Saskatchewan man

Asbestos kills. That is much more than a WorkSafe safety campaign slogan for Wade Dieno. The 70-year old Chitek Lake resident knows all too well about the dangers of asbestos exposure in the workplace, the leading cause of work-related deaths in the province. He was diagnosed with stage three mesothelioma (a cancer of the lungs and chest wall, most often caused by exposure to asbestos) in Nov. 2019, and was given 12-14 months to live. The news hit him like a bolt of lightning.

“Shock, anger, bitterness – I went through them all,” Wade says. “I had only retired two years before that, and had a great retirement planned with my wife Colleen, including spending six months a year at our retirement property in Mexico. It was devastating to realize I won’t be around for any of that.”

Wade’s story mirrors those of many young men in rural and small-town Saskatchewan in the 1960s. He left school after grade 10 to pursue a career in the trades, starting out as a labourer at a potash mine in 1968. He went on to acquire a journeyman qualification in plumbing, gas and pipe fitting. In 1982 he went to work at a uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan, and spent the next 35 years there – eventually acquiring a power engineer ticket.

“We were around asbestos all the time,” Wade recalls. “But, to be fair, the companies provided us with all the personal protective equipment (PPE) that we needed to stay safe. Did I always use it? No. Do I wish that I did? Absolutely.”

“I was like a lot of guys, and thought I was invincible. So, I cut corners on safety to get my work done. And now, that decision is costing me the ultimate price.”

Asbestos was used in many common building materials up until the late 1990s, and its impact is still felt today. When asbestos is disturbed, like during renovations, tiny fibres are released into the air and can cause severe – even fatal – lung diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. According to the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), in 2019, almost 45 per cent of all work-related deaths in Saskatchewan were from asbestos-related diseases.

“Oh sure, I was angry and bitter at first,” Wade says. “But really, what’s the point? In the end, it was me. I made the decisions that are costing me my future.”

“That’s why I’m telling my story now,” Wade continues. “If I can prevent some young workers, even just one, from making the same mistakes I did, I suppose that would be a pretty good legacy to leave behind.”

Wade enthusiastically supports the “Asbestos kills. It’s best to test.” campaign recently launched by WorkSafe Saskatchewan. The campaign aims to raise awareness that asbestos exposure continues to be a problem and that it’s best to test if asbestos is suspected to be present.

“We want to remind and educate construction contractors and homeowners that asbestos remains a serious health issue,” says Kevin Mooney, vice-president of prevention and employer services at the Saskatchewan WCB. “If you take the time to test for asbestos before starting any construction or renovation project, you can protect yourself and others from asbestos exposure.”

For more information including an asbestos abatement guide, free e-course and additional resources, please visit worksafesask.ca/asbestos.