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Written by
on 21 August 2012


Asbestos Cleaning

A rather unusual case of fraud was discovered when an engineer visited a school to begin some plumbing work.  While he carried out his duties the man discovered that there was some asbestos material that was putting him and the other workers on the school site at risk of inhaling fibres. Asbestos fibres cause diseases and deaths for thousands of workers each year and so the discovery needed investigating.  The Health and Safety Executive were informed and after investigating they found they needed to prosecute the men for fraud.

Detective Work Using GPS Exposed Fraud

The school was thought to have been cleared of asbestos after a record stating that the asbestos was cleaned was created by two men.  The fraud became apparent when one of their employers used GPS on the company van to see if they had actually visited the school on the day that the report had been created.  As it happened the men had actually headed to a service station and didn’t go anywhere near the Abington school that day.

The case was heard at Oxford Magistrates Court on August 17.  It was disclosed that Ricky Gray works as an asbestos analyst and David Gray (who is not related to the first defendant) works for an asbestos contractor as a supervisor.  It seems that rather than working for a couple of hours on a Sunday the men decided to fake the report so they could have the day off.  David Grey had been told to conduct an environmental clean of the parts of the school that had asbestos present by his employers, Maylarch Environmental.  Ricky Gray was then contracted by Tersus to provide an independent assessment of the clean-up job performed by David Gray on July 25.  The independent assessment is a must for all work that involves the removal of asbestos.

Investigations Resulted in Prosecution by the HSE

When H&E engineers came to perform work on the boiler on July 27 the HSE were immediately contacted by the supervisor, Trevor Benfield.  The following investigation shows that Tersus ltd thought that the assessment carried out by their contractor was properly signed off as they had received the report from Ricky Gray.  After the condition of the school was made apparent Tersus decided to do some investigating of their own.  This involved checking the GPS system in the van which showed where the van had travelled that day.  David Gray then decided to tell the truth letting them know that the report was completely fabricated.

Richard Gray was fined £4,000 and must also pay £1,000 in court costs and David Gray was fined £1,000 and must pay £250.  Both of the men had pleaded guilty for breaching section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Health and safety consultants are able to assist businesses and organisations with a full asbestos survey.  The survey can then be used to discover if asbestos is present and what work is required to safely remove it from your premises.  Call 0800 1488 677 for more advices about the asbestos health and safety services.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.