27 July, 2009
The issue of regulating the safety of domestic gas appliances is one of the key areas which fall under the remit of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Work that is carried out by a person who is unregistered can lead to disastrous consequences, as seen in one case that was heard in Cardiff in July 2009. This, along with two other cases in England, shows how important gas safety is and that all users of such engineers, including landlords of properties, should ensure that a correctly qualified and registered person completes the work.
On 23 July 2009, a gas fitter was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter and of six breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act by Cardiff Crown Court for causing the deaths of two people from carbon monoxide poisoning. Peter Tongue had carried out work on the central heating boiler at the property in Brecon and cleaned soot from it.
The court heard that Mr Tongue had carried out repairs to the boiler in 2006 and less than one month later the two pensioners were found dead on a sofa. It was also revealed that Mr Tongue's CORGI registration, which permitted him to work on boilers, had expired in 2003 and he was therefore unregistered at the time the work was carried out. He is due to be sentenced on 30 July 2009.
On 8 July 2009, Peter Welke pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 at Blackpool Magistrates' Court for work carried out in the Lytham St Annes area of Lancashire. Mr Welke had been charged with carrying out gas-fitting work without being registered and also subcontracting work to a second gas fitter who was also not registered at properties in 2007.
Mr Welke was fined £700 and ordered to pay costs of £2,800.
On 15 July 2009, Gordon Connolly was found guilty of two charges under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 by carrying out work as a gas engineer while not a member of the approved gas registration body.
The court heard that in January 2006, Mr Connolly was served by HSE with an Improvement Notice which required him to either become registered or stop undertaking gas work. However, he continued working and was eventually caught when Council officials spotted irregularities in the gas safety certificates supplied by him when work had been completed. These errors had been spotted by a Housing Officer at Warwick District Council for work at two properties in the Council's rent deposit scheme.
Mr Connolly was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £20,632 by Rugby Magistrates' Court.
Every year, 20 people die in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed. The importance of using registered gas engineers cannot be underestiamted.
Therefore it is advised that all property owners ask to see a gas engineer's GasSafe registration before they carry out work in the future. A failure to do so can lead to serious consequcnces, as seen in the three cases above.