20 January, 2010
In January 2010, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has made the focus of its 'Myth of the Month' feature the rules relating to work being carried out to gas appliances. Under the slogan of 'Gas and Cowboys don't mix', HSE has made attempts to highlight the importance of such work being undertaken by suitably qualified gas engineers.
In 2009, there were a number of prosecutions taken against landlords who had failed to comply with their legal duties (some of which were undertaken by HSE):
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 HSE 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.
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.
The HSE has stated that every year around 20-30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with domestic gas appliances incorrectly installed or maintained. The importance of using registered gas engineers cannot be underestiamted because of this.
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.