Fraudsters collude to file false asbestos report20 August 2012
Two men have admitted falsifying a record stating that a school in Oxfordshire had been properly cleaned of asbestos.
Maylarch Environmental Ltd was contracted to clear asbestos, which had been disturbed during the removal of a boiler at Our Lady’s Abingdon School. The company carried out licensed asbestos work at the school between 21 and 25 July 2010.
Environmental consultants Tersus Ltd had been contracted to provide a final independent assessment of the clean-up. On 25 July 2010, Ricky Gray (no relation) arranged to meet Maylarch Environmental emplyee David Gray to complete the assessment. The two men signed a report stating the work had been suitably completed.
The following day, an engineer visited the school to install a new boiler and became concerned that asbestos was still present. He immediately contacted the HSE and an investigation was launched.
The HSE learned that both Tersus and Maylarch Environmental believed the site had been made safe after they received the report. Tersus launched its own investigation and used GPS tracking on Ricky Gray’s van. The tracker showed the vehicle had been driven to a service station on the M40 and then back to his home address, proving he hasn’t visited the school.
He later admitted he had met David Gray and together they had fabricated the clearance report to make it look as though the assessment had been carried out.
Ricky Gray and David Gray appeared at Oxfordshire Magistrates’ Court on 17 August and both pleaded guilty to breaching s7 of the HSWA 1974. Ricky was fined £4000 and £1000 in costs; David was fined £1000 and ordered to pay £250 in costs.
In mitigation, both accepted they had done wrong and said they regretted their actions. Neither have any previous safety convictions and they no longer work for the companies they represented.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Moore said: “This was an unusual fraud, the first of its type that I am aware of. It was only detected thanks to Mr Benfield’s [the engineer who visited the school on 26 July] knowledge and perseverance, and the use of GPS technology.
“It was also a serious fraud, as it may have exposed other workers coming on to the school site to the very real dangers of inhalation of asbestos fibres.
“I can only have an educated guess at what motivated these two to collude in this fashion.”
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