'Health risk': Investigation launched into asbestos tester
A BRISBANE-BASED asbestos auditing business that tested CQUniversity has been called out by authorities over unscrupulous practices that could have put people's lives at risk.
CQU senior deputy vice-chancellor Alastair Dawson said the university was, "as a matter of priority", reviewing all past asbestos audits after it was revealed the company it hired to carry out inspections on campuses across central Queensland was slammed by the Office of Fair Trading.
The OFT issued a warning to businesses across the country to "avoid dealing" with the company Asbestos Audit and its director Mark Dougal Rentoul.
Mr Rentoul tested buildings at the CQU Gladstone Marina Campus in 2014 and found that there was no "asbestos material" present within any of the classrooms or buildings.
But a complaint from an undisclosed regional council prompted the OFT to probe Mr Rentoul's business practises, which subsequently found Mr Rentoul was charging clients for samples of materials he had taken but not actually tested.
As an asbestos auditor, Mr Rentoul was supposed to take sample material from buildings and have it independently tested in a laboratory.
The Office of Fair Trading said it was aware of 700 locations that had contracted Mr Rentoul to conduct more than $1million worth of work.
"Not only is Asbestos Audit making misleading representations about its services and accepting payment for services not delivered but this behaviour is potentially putting people's health at risk," Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said.
He said Mr Rentoul's "deceptive behaviour" was unacceptable and that the OFT would continue to investigate the matter.
Although CQU's Mr Dawson said the university didn't have any "specific concerns" about any of its sites, believing the campuses to be safe, he was "concerned" that CQU had paid for a service it didn't receive.
CQU would not comment on how much it paid for Mr Rentoul's services, however CQU did make a payment to Asbestos Audit in November 2014 for $55,743.
The OFT investigation into Asbestos Audit and its director Mark Rentoul was ongoing.
A spokesman for the OFT said it did not disclose the names of "consumers or affected parties without their permission".
"The details of those affected by the company's alleged offending are part of the ongoing investigation and, as such, they cannot be released by the OFT at this time," the spokesman said.