Prosecution Sparks Gas Safety into Spotlight

Article

15 September, 2009

The dangers of having gas work undertaken by illegal gas workers have again been highlighted by a successful joint prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive and Hull Trading Standards. The case comes just weeks after an unaccredited gas engineer was jailed for manslaughter in Brecon.

Instances such as these can only serve to emphasise the importance of landlords and other property owners using fully qualified and registered workers to complete work on gas appliances in their premises.

On 8 September 2009, Andrew McLatchie was fined £550 and ordered to pay £500 costs by Hull and Holderness Magistrates' Court. Mr McLatchie pleaded guilty to seven breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and four infringements of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. The breaches related to work carried at three properties in the Hull region for which he was not registered under the approved scheme.

The Health and Safety Executive and Hull City Council's Trading Standards team began their investigations after one of the owners of the properties discovered that Mr McLatchie was not a registered gas fitter. When the work that he had carried out was inspected, it emerged that there were numerous defects, which could have put lives at risk. Mr McLatchie was also said to have falsely claimed that he was registered when in fact this was not the case.

Landlords may wish to bear in mind the following information to ensure that they are fully complaint with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

All providers of housing are under a legal duty to arrange maintenance of all gas pipe work, appliances and flues which are used by tenants by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords also must arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. When such a check is carried out, a record of the inspection must be held for two years and a copy must be provided to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed. A copy must also be issued before a new tenant moves into a property.

Registering with Gas Safe

From April 2009, the Capita Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by the Health and Safety Executive under the 1998 Regulations and replaced 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.

The Dangers

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.

Summary

This case is just the latest in a line of situations which emphasise the importance of carrying out gas safety checks at properties which are rented out to individuals. A failure to do so can not only lead to a substantial fine for landlords, but also has the potential of causing serious injuries to tenants, their families, guests and neighbouring properties.

Even in difficult economic times, it remains vital for landlords to make sure that all gas appliances are checked to a safe standard on an annual basis and that each check is accurately recorded. By spending money on such maintenance, landlords (and those who carry out work on their behalf) could avoid paying out larger amounts through fines in the future.

For more information and assistance on these issues, please contact the Housing Department at Forbes Solicitors on 01772 220200 or contact Stuart Penswick by email.

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