12 August, 2009
The importance of having work carried out on gas appliances in residential properties by accredited engineers was highlighted by the recent prosecution and jailing of a gas fitter in Wales after the tragic death of two people.
Two individuals died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a warm air central heating system in Brecon which the defendant, Peter Tongue, had carried out work on just a short time earlier in December 2006.
At the hearing in Cardiff Crown Court in July 2009, it was said that Mr Tongue's accreditation as a CORGI registered gas engineer had expired three years before he carried out the work on the central heating system. Therefore, at the time of the incident he was illegally operating as an unregistered gas fitter.
Mr Tongue was jailed for three years for each manslaughter charge (to run concurrently) after being found guilty by the jury of two charges of manslaughter and six charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
From April 2009, the Capita Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by the HSE under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, thus replacing the previous CORGI registration. All installers (including those used by landlords) wanting to undertake domestic gas work will need to be registered with the Gas Safe scheme in order to be able to lawfully carry out any work on both gas fittings and appliances in a property.
Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste which makes identifying its presence very difficult. It can kill people without warning. In order to avoid this happening, it is advised that all residential gas appliances are properly maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out. It may also be beneficial to install carbon monoxide detectors in the property as a precautionary measure.
This incident serves as an unfortunate and tragic reminder of the dangers posed by gas and of the importance of ensuring that work is carried out by properly registered and qualified fitters. Individuals and housing associations alike are advised to ensure that Gas Safe registered engineers are used to carry out annual safety checks and any repair work needed.