Radon needs to be addressed in schools. This flows from legal obligations to ensure the safety of students and staff under the Schools Act and under the Occupiers Liability Act.
Schools are workplaces, so school districts must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR).
The OHSR has clear rules on ionizing radiation (s. 7.19-24) and also puts on employers a ‘general duty’ to ensure workplaces are safe (s. 2.2). If a workplace ensures that radon levels are under 200 Bq/m3 this will approximate these standards. The OHSR also has general requirements on avoiding risk of injury or occupational disease (s. 2.2) Ontario’s guidance on Radon in the Workplace has adopted the formal policy that the ‘general duty clauses’ includes protection from radon over 200 Bq/m3.
School districts, parents, teachers, school medical officers and BC’s Ministry of Education can all work together to help ensure that children and staff learn and work in a radon-safe school environment:
School districts should include radon in safety programs and test for radon, as part of protecting students and staff and reducing risks of litigation.
Teachers and staff can participate in Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committees to ensure radon testing and further pursue the issue through WorksafeBC (OHSR, s. 31-46). They may also pursue the greivance process through their collective agreement.
Parents and students can raise formal complaints with principals, school districts and school boards (School Act, s. 11)
Medical Health Officers can order testing (School Act, s. 90(1))
The provincial government has clear powers to make specific orders for testing and mitigation in schools under the School Act. It can also update guidance on healthy schools to specify indoor air concerns, including radon.