Central Valley man accused of issuing sham asbestos certificates
October 22, 2009
• Students allegedly licensed to remove asbestos without proper training
• Indictment says he gave the answers to required tests to his students
Rogelio Lowe, 43, of Thornton, is accused of a scheme to defraud by issuing certificates to asbestos removal workers despite knowing that he had not provided them with the proper training, and charging their employers the full price of the training, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco says Thursday.
Federal law prohibits anyone from removing asbestos from schools and public and commercial buildings unless that person has been trained under a program either approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or an accredited state program. Asbestos is classified as a hazardous substance and known carcinogen.
To become a certified asbestos worker, an individual must, at a minimum, complete a four-day, eight hours per day, training course. The training course must include lectures, demonstrations, at least 14 hours of hands on training and individual respirator fit testing. The student must then pass a closed-book examination. Once a person receives a certificate, he or she must then take an annual refresher course.
Mr. Lowe was the owner and operator of E&D Environmental Safety Training Inc., a safety consulting company that, according to its Web site, provides occupational training in asbestos work, lead abatement and mold remediation.
According to the indictment, Mr. Lowe provided asbestos removal courses that did not comply with federal law. The government says he did not teach the course for the required number of hours – including holding classes that were no more than 25 minutes in length – provided answers to the closed-book examinations, and forged tests for students that did not attend a test day. Mr. Lowe would then issue certificates to students and charge their employers accordingly, the grand jury claims.
The indictment also says he submitted class rosters to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, (Cal/OSHA) reflecting that the students had successfully completed the training and passed the closed-book examination when he knew they had not.
Cal/OSHA used and relied on these rosters to add the names of students to its state list of qualified asbestos workers. According to the indictment, Mr. Lowe issued certificates for both initial asbestos training and annual refresher courses without providing the required training in violation of law.