02 March, 2010
In two recent prosecutions, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has sought to tackle the problem of people undertaking work to gas appliances when not correctly registered to do so. Both of these cases indicate how seriously the HSE and the courts view beaches of gas safety rules.
It is therefore important that those who work as or use gas engineers ensure that there is compliance with the Gas Safe Register in order to avoid problems arising in the future.
Case 1: Gloucestershire
The HSE has reported that in February 2010 it successfully prosecuted Stanley Burrage, who traded as JB Complete Homes Services. Gloucester Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Burrage supplied and fitted a kitchen, which included a gas hob, at a council-owned property in July 2008 without being CORGI registered (now replaced by the Gas Safe Register).
In carrying out the work, it was said that Mr Burrage fitted a cupboard around the gas central heating system and hot water boiler. In doing so, he removed and discarded the sealed boiler casing. In November 2008, the council carried out an inspection which revealed errors which were an immediate and serious risk to the residents in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mr Burrage pleaded guilty to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was fined £1,200 and ordered to pay costs of the same amount.
Case 2: West Yorkshire
The HSE has also reported that a gas fitter from West Yorkshire was given a suspended custodial sentence and a community service order for breaching the same Regulations. Brian Lloyd was given a 17 week suspended sentence, ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service and pay £1,000 costs.
The case concerned work carried out by Mr Lloyd in Osset and Wakefield in May and June 2009. Wakefield Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Lloyd's gas competencies expired in January 2009 and he was removed from the Gas Safe Register. However, he continued to carry out work to gas appliances illegally. It was also said that he falsely claimed to be Gas Safe registered.
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 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.
These two cases indicate how the courts view breaches of the law relating to gas safety. The HSE has stated that every year around 20-30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with domestic gas appliances being incorrectly installed or maintained. The importance of using correctly registered gas engineers cannot be underestimated because of this.
These figures also 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.