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Worker entitled to asbestos records for government building he worked in, but not list of employees in building

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A worker was entitled to asbestos records for the government building he worked in. However, he was not entitled to a list of government employees who worked in the building and therefore who may have been exposed to asbestos, a B.C. freedom of information adjudicator has held.

The worker asked for and was given records in relation to air quality and discovery of asbestos in two government buildings.  He was denied access to an email containing a list of government employees who worked in the building.

The employee appealed. The adjudicator refused access to the employee list. She decided that the government had gathered the names of employees for the purposes of possible future workplace health and safety claims.  As such, the list related to employees’ “employment history” and this should not be disclosed. Also, because the context in which the list was created indicates that the employees in the building may have been exposed to asbestos, the list would reveal information about “medical history”. That was another reason why, under the freedom of information legislation, the list should not be disclosed.

While the case deals with government-owned buildings, the decision perhaps demonstrates some workers’ anxiety about asbestos in buildings and their perceptions regarding risks to their health.

British Columbia (Finance) (Re), 2016 BCIPC 46 (CanLII)