Debunking the myth over gas appliance work

Article

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.

The Dangers to Landlords & 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):

  • In July 2009, a gas engineer in Brecon was jailed for 3 years for manslaughter and breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 after he carried out work to a domestic gas appliance when incorrectly registered.
  • In August 2009, a landlord from Huntingdon was jailed for 16 months after failing to carry out gas safety checks at his properties and producing bogus gas safety certificates.
  • In September 2009, a landlord from Golcar had a 16 month prison sentence suspended for 12 months after failing to ensure that a gas appliance had an annual safety check and for ignoring improvement notices. He was also required to carry out 60 hours community service.
  • In September 2009, a gas engineer from Hull was fined £550 and ordered to pay costs of £500 after falsely claiming that he was a registered gas engineer and for carrying out work when unregistered.
  • In October 2009, a landlord from Ilkley was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 after failing to have annual gas safety checks carried out and for ignoring improvement notices served upon her.
  • In November 2009, a gas engineer from Mansfield was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years after providing gas safety certificates which had false registration details, a false business address and for advertising that he was a registered gas engineer when this was not the case.
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 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.

The Dangers to Tenants

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

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.

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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