World news – GB – Grenfell Inquiry: Former employee describes ‘dishonest’ acts at a company that manufactured flammable insulation in the tower


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Former Celotex Associate Product Manager Inquiry said the company was being dishonest when testing its Rs5000 barrier product.

A former employee of the company that produces flammable insulation at Grenfell Tower says he has complied with « totally unethical » actions, having heard the investigation of the June 2017 disaster.

Jonathan Roper, a former assistant product manager at Celotex, told the proceedings the company was « dishonest » by « over-engineering » fire safety testing to enable its Rs5000 insulation product to pass.

After a failed initial test in January 2014, a second system was passed in May 2014 – it was used to incorrectly market combustible rigid foam panels as safe for use in tall buildings, according to an inquiry.

Celotex added a fireproof 6mm magnesium oxide board to the cladding test bench consisting of 12mm fiber cement panels for the second test, the session was told.

An inquiry heard that 8 mm fiber cement panels were added to « mask » the presence of magnesium oxide, making the entire system nearly flush – but for a difference of 2 mm.

Mr. Roeper agreed with chief investigative attorney Richard Millett QC that the use of “a thinner layer was to make it less visible, there was something else behind it,” which would help “avoid any possibility of anyone asking questions,” about how it was invented.

Mr. Roeper answered, « Yes, I did, » when Mr. Millett asked him the question, « Did that not shock you at the time as being dishonest? »

Mr. Roper also said: “I followed a lot of procedures at Celotex which, looking back at my thinking, were totally unethical, and I probably didn’t think about the impact of that at the time..

“I was 22 or 23 years old, my first job, I thought this was normal practice although it was very uncomfortable with me.

Mr. Roper added that his superiors had ordered the removal of the mention of magnesium oxide from any marketing, which he agreed was « misleading and intended to mislead. ».

Mr. Millett also asked: « Did you realize at the time that if this was the way the test was to be prescribed to the market, that would be market fraud? »

Mr. Roper answered, « Yes, I did. It felt incredibly uncomfortable. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in what I was asked to do.

He added that he could not express his concerns to anyone else in the company at the time.

Mr Roper also said inquiring that the impetus for bringing the Rs5000 to the market was to compete with a competitor..

Celotex released a statement saying: “In the course of Celotex investigations following the Grenfell Tower Fire, some issues arose regarding the testing, approval and marketing of Celotex products that were previously unknown to the current Celotex administration.

She added: “Once established, it was announced immediately and publicly through notices on the Celotex website and the relevant testing and certification bodies, Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Commerce Standards, Metropolitan Police and Investigation were informed..

“These included unacceptable behavior on the part of a number of employees. It shouldn’t have happened, and Celotex has taken concerted steps to ensure that issues like these don’t recur.

“Celotex is committed to fully cooperating with Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related investigations, and to continue to support the UK government’s ongoing response to the tragedy.

The company, which is part of the French multinational group Saint-Gobain, confirms that it has encouraged the use of Rs5000 in buildings over 18 meters high only on a « rain cladding system with specified components », which was used when the fire safety test passed.

In its opening statement for Unit 2 of the investigation, the company said: “In the course of the investigations that Celotex has conducted following the Grenfell Tower Fire, some issues have arisen regarding the testing, certification and marketing of Celotex products..

The second unit of the investigation will examine the production, testing and sale of materials used in the renovation of the tower that saw 72 people killed in the June 14, 2017 fire.

© 2020 Sky UK

Building Insulation, Grenfell Tower Fire, Celotex, Management

World News – GB – Grenfell Inquiry: A former employee describes a « dishonorable » business at a company that manufactured flammable insulation in the tower
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