23 November, 2009
From 16-20 November 2009, the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week aims to raise the profile of gas safety in domestic properties and preventing the risks associated with exposure to carbon monoxide. The provisions of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 cannot be ignored by individuals or organisations letting out properties.
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.
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.
The importance of having work carried out on gas appliances in residential properties by accredited engineers has been highlighted by criminal prosecutions brought by the Health & Safety Executive, which has resulted in individuals being given substantial fines or even prison sentences. In one case in July 2009, a gas engineer from Brecon was jailed for three years for breaches which led to the deaths of two people in the property in question.
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.
Unregulated gas work can lead to a gas leak, a fire, or even an explosion at the property in addition to the exposure to carbon monoxide. These can all lead to serious injury or even death to those residing at the property.
In 2007/08, 14 people died in the United Kingdom from carbon monoxide poisoning and there were more than 230 non-fatal conformed carbon monoxide poisonings. These figures show that the risks potentially posed by gas appliances are real and lethal. Landlords and other housing providers should ensure that they do all they can to reduce the risks of their tenants from such dangers in the future.
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.