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Professionals at risk from cowboy asbestos inspectors

USED CAR salesmen with three days training are undercutting accredited asbestos inspection firms, specialist consultants claimed this week.

Cowboy outfits, many operating without insurance, are exploiting new regulations regarding surveys, specialist consultants body Asbestos Training and Consulting (ATaC) chairman John Richards told NCE.

Since May, owners of business premises have been obliged to check for asbestos in their buildings, rather than address the problem when it is discovered.

This has led to a flood of rogue traders tackling asbestos surveys with the most basic of preparation - three days of tuition and a multiple-choice exam.

Richards said: 'We've got all sorts of hoops and hurdles we have to go through but it seems the rest of the market isn't doing it.

'A lot of these guys aren't carrying appropriate levels of insurance. Used car salesmen are suddenly asbestos inspectors, ' he said.

'We've got people out there now without any construction experience whatsoever. These people are gaining experience on the job so their errors will be there for clients to find in five or 10 years time.'

Most reputable inspection companies spend between 5% and 9% of turnover on insurance premiums and up to £100,000 a year on quality assurance personnel. This puts them at an immediate disadvantage to operators without these overheads.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and AtaC's parent body the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association are developing an accreditation scheme for individuals to match the existing recognition for companies.

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