The Asbestos Debate Heats up on the News and in the Roofing Crew Trucks

Anthophyllite asbestos,  Scanning electron microscope pic
Anthophyllite asbestos,
Scanning electron microscope pic

 When it comes to the safety aspect of the roofing occupation, the truth remains obvious.  Roofing is a dangerous. However most roofers don’t stop and discuss it on a regular basis . In fact I often wonder if some of my co-workers are in denial (I think to myself regularly when on the roof, “the stats don’t lie – roofing is most definitely dangerous”).

Just a few weeks back, a co-roofer friend of mine was re-roofing a home (not co-worker as he works elsewhere), he came screaming off a residential two story home and ended up shattering his feet. He was incredibly Lucky that he only sustained those injuries it was not some thing much more serious. With accidents like that you learn to appreciate having to endure broken bones rather than having some one tell your wife and kids that dad won’t be coming home.

When the recent asbestos stories started hitting the news, what I found interesting as a roofer is that the roofers began actually talking about safety in the workplace. The recent public asbestos debates have increased conversations with the roofers around me, and when contractors and “suits” visit I’ve noticed the management, architects, engineers and the like discussing the same issue.

What is peaking the interest of the roofers and management alike is the obvious very present potential danger of asbestos in the roofing material itself…

Common questions and comments around the water cooler (so to speak) go like this;

“We rip these roofs off every day, is there asbestos in the  materials we’re ripping off these buildings?”

“Asbestos in roofing materials?” 

“Are there risks to the roofers?” 

“What about home-owners and business owners, what are the risks to people inside

In consideration to GRS starting the 2012 roofing season with a complete over-haul/ revamping of the safe work practices. We thought it would be best to include information regarding the current debate of asbestos into the safe work place packages.

All GRS safety packages will include articles from this blog, written by other team members about our crews personal journey and experiences towards our effort to make GRS and roofing in general, a safer work environment.

The contributions from the GRS staff will include articles aimed towards safe-work practices in roofing, the equipment we use, and the safety training and certifications roofers can acquire. The GRS staff will also be trying on, testing, and reviewing a number of new safety equipment brands and types of equipment in an effort to broaden our crew equipping horizons. All of which we will share on our blog.

We will keep this article short. But before we go, and prior to follow-up articles, we thought it would be best to provide some background for folks to consider. Listed below are some interesting links to information we found on the internet as it relates to understanding asbestos, asbestos in roofing, what period of time asbestos has been used, what forms of asbestos are considered dangerous, and simple definitions.


CBC News Asbestos WHO2
CBC Asbestos Story


Recycling, Asphalt, and Asbestos:

Roof leak in to school causes asbestos to enter building:

Until next time,

The GRS Roofing Team


General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)
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