• Listed below is some of the horror stories issued by Gas Safe News.

  • Unregistered installer prosecuted for second time in four months Gas Safe News

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    An illegal installer was prosecuted for the second time in just four months, after carrying out gas work while he was not registered with the Gas Safe Register.

    Matthew Congdon, aged 33, from Bude was sentenced at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on Friday 8 May 2015, and given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

    He was found guilty of breaching Regulation 3(3) and 33(1)(c) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Section 33(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

    Mr Congdon had previously been prosecuted by the HSE and had pleaded guilty at Bodmin Magistrates Court in December 2014 for undertaking gas work while he was not registered, for falsely using the Gas Safe Register logo and for breaching an HSE Prohibition Notice, and he was fined £5,000.

    Two days before Mr Congdon pleaded guilty in December 2014 he installed another gas boiler at a residential property in Bude. By doing so, he breached another HSE Prohibition Notice. The gas boiler that he fitted had not been installed to the manufactures instructions and had not been commissioned which means that it was not safe to use.

    After the hearing HSE Inspector Simon Jones said: “Mr Congdon showed utter contempt for public safety when he continued to undertake gaswork when he knew he should not. Previous gaswork by Mr Congdon had been found to be substandard and posed a danger to the public.”

    More information about Gas Safe Register can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/

  • Insulation firm fined £500,000 over pensioner’s carbon monoxide death

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    A pensioner from Middleton died from carbon monoxide poisoning just hours after the flue on her gas boiler was blocked with cavity wall insulation, a court has heard.

    HIS Energy Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following Joyce Moore’s death, which occurred less than five hours after employees left her Middleton Road home.

    Manchester Crown Court heard today (13 February) that the 83-year-old’s son had received a cold call from Nationwide Energy Services Ltd in September 2012 offering free cavity wall insulation through a scheme subsidised by the energy companies.

    The firm, which was featured on the BBC Three series ‘The Call Centre’, arranged for its sister company, HIS Energy Ltd, now in liquidation, to carry out the work.

    On 9 October 2012, three HIS Energy Ltd employees visited the property where they drilled holes through the house bricks, before using a machine to blow thousands of insulation beads into the cavity between the outer and inner walls.

    When one of the employees checked the boiler, he noticed a pile of insulation beads at the back of it and assumed they had come through a hole in the lining of the chimney.

    The worker phoned the firm’s main office, where he spoke to two managers to make them aware of the issue but neither of them arranged for a gas engineer to visit the property that evening.

    Instead, Mrs Moore’s son was advised not to use the boiler but the company failed to make him aware of the potentially fatal consequences of turning on the heating.

    HIS Energy also failed to make sure the boiler was switched off before its employees left the property, failed to leave a warning notice on the boiler or with the homeowner, and failed to alert National Grid or a gas engineer, despite this being standard industry guidance.

    Just after 8pm, Mrs Moore’s son noticed the house was getting cold and so turned up the thermostat in the hall, causing the heating to come on. When he stood up from the sofa around two hours later, he felt dizzy and went to check on his mother. He found her slumped on her bed.

    A post mortem confirmed the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Mrs Moore’s son and two paramedics were also hospitalised after tests found high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood.

    The HSE investigation found HIS Energy did not provide adequate guidance for its employees on what to do if a boiler flue became blocked. The job packs in the company van contained examples of warning notices, but there were no actual notices which could be given to homeowners or stuck on boilers.

    HIS Energy Ltd, which has since gone into voluntary liquidation, was found guilty of a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, formerly of Northern Boulevard in Swansea, was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £24,968.44 in prosecution costs.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Lisa Bailey said:

    “It was a natural reaction for Mrs Moore’s son to turn on the heating when it began to get cold, especially as he hadn’t been made aware of the potential dangers.

    “The boiler should have been switched off by the company, and warning signs should have been stuck on the side. If this had happened then I am sure the heating would have remained off throughout the evening.

    HIS Energy should also have arranged for a registered gas engineer or National Grid to visit to property as soon as possible but, again, this did not happen.

    “The company knew about the risks from its work but its safety standards fell well below the legal minimum. As a result, an elderly woman has lost her life.”

    More information on gas safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/gas.

  • Gas Safe Register news

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    If you’re having gas work done, don’t put yourself at risk!


    Rogue gas fitters are putting peoples’ lives at risk and leaving them out of pocket as homeowners are not checking their tradespeople are working legally.

    Gas Safe Register surveyed 2,000 homeowners and of those who have had gas work done in the last year, more than one in four (28 per cent) didn't even think about checking that the engineer was legal and on the Gas Safe Register.


    There are an estimated quarter of a million illegal gas jobs carried out every year and Gas Safe Register’s investigations are uncovering that nine in 10 illegal gas jobs are not completed to the required standard. In fact, one in every five jobs is so dangerous that their inspectors had to quickly switch the appliance off because it could have immeGas and Cowboys Dont Mixdiately caused a gas explosion, fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Homeowners are far too trusting in the people they hire. We are urging the public to be more diligent in checking a gas engineer’s ID card and making sure they are qualified to do the job in hand. For information on what to check on an engineer’s ID card watch Gas Safe Register’s short video.


    If you suspect illegal gas work, you can report it anonymously to Gas Safe Register and they will investigate.

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  • North West London landlord convicted for gas safety dangers

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    A Harrow-based landlord has been given a suspended jail sentence and fined £10,000 for putting his tenants’ lives in danger by carrying out illegal gas work at the flats he rented.

     

    Vispasp Sarkari, who rented out five flats in a block on London Road in Wembley, was charged with a serious safety breach after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

    Southwark Crown Court heard today (27 Jan) that Vispasp Sakari was caught ‘red-handed’ on 13 August 2013 carrying out work on a boiler by a visiting National Grid engineer. It followed a complaint that the landlord was working on gas fittings in a flat that was home to a family with children.

    HSE found evidence that Mr Sarkari had carried out illegal gas work at the block of flats on a number of occasions, despite the fact he was not Gas Safe registered.

    On the day of the visit by the National Grid, Mr Sarkari was working with another person and there was no evidence he was registered either with Gas Safe.

    The court was told that it was only by being registered with the accreditation body Gas Safe that an individual or firm was legally entitled to undertake any work on gas fittings.

    Vispasp Sarkari of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow, north west London, was sentenced to 12 months’ prison, suspended for two years; 150 hours’ unpaid community work; fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £9,978 in costs after admitting breaching the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations.

    After the hearing, HSE inspector Lisa Chappell said:

    “The potential consequences arising from using unregistered and possibly incompetent gas fitters are significant and well-known. They include serious injury from fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning.

    “The regulations relevant to who should carry out work on gas appliances are unambiguous.

    “As someone carrying out unregistered gas work, and allowing another person to undertake similar illegal work in his properties, Vispasp Sarkari put a number of the tenants, their families and friends, at serious risk of harm.”

  • Plumbers in court over illegal gas work in Essex

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    A local plumber has been sentenced to 200 hours unpaid community service, and another has been fined, over illegal gas work that put lives in danger at a hotel in Sawbridgeworth.

    James Outtridge, 61, of Upper Swains, Epping, was prosecuted after an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found work on several gas appliances he had overseen, left them ‘At Risk’.

    Scott Wilson, 43, from Buckwells Field, Hertford, was prosecuted for carrying out illegal gas work under Mr Outtridge’s supervision on one occasion, also leaving appliances ‘At Risk’.

    Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard (10 February) that Mr Outtridge was asked by the hotel landlord to install a gas-fired hot water boiler at The Railway Hotel in Sawbridgeworth in November 2013.

    Mr Outtridge arranged for the boiler to be installed by a gas fitter who was not registered with Gas Safe Register to carry out private gas work, as the law requires. This boiler was later found to have been left ‘At Risk’.

    Following a Food Hygiene inspection by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO), Mr Outtridge was then asked to arrange for important gas safety checks to be carried out on the gas appliances at the hotel. Mr Outtridge again failed to use a Gas Safe registered engineer and the landlord was supplied with a fraudulent report reassuring him that his appliances were safe to use.

    When the report was found by the EHO to be fraudulent, Mr Outtridge arranged for Scott Wilson to repeat these safety checks. But Mr Wilson was also not registered with Gas Safe register to carry out private gas work, either.

    James Outtridge of Upper Swains, Epping, Essex, was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service, with the bench describing him as ‘highly culpable’. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,300 and a £60 victim surcharge for three breaches of Regulation 4 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

    Scott Wilson of Buckwells Field, Hertford, Hertfordshire, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £611 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge for breaches of Regulation 3(1) and Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

    After the case, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews said:

    “People can die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, and, by their negligence, James Outtridge and Scott Wilson could have caused the illness or death of the owner and employees at this hotel.

    “The purpose of the Gas Safe Register is to protect the public from gas work being carried out by people who have not been trained and are not competent. On several occasions Mr Outtridge used persons including Mr Wilson, who were not registered and had not been assessed as competent by Gas Safe Register. Their actions endangered members of the public, putting them at serious risk of injury and even potentially death.”

    Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, added:

    “Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on.

    “We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card and if they have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home or workplace, to speak to us. Every year we investigate thousands of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk

  • Pair in court for endangering homeowners’ lives

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    Two tradesmen have been fined after the lives of homeowners were put at risk when one of them illegally installed a boiler at a home in High Wycombe.

    High Wycombe Magistrates heard today (11 March) the homeowner had contracted Anthony Shaw, who trades as Quality Building Services, Aylesbury, to extend his home in October 2012.

    Part of the work included moving a boiler from an airing cupboard to the new extension and Mr Shaw recommended Darren Bridgen, also of Aylesbury, to the homeowner to carry out the gas work but failed to check he was Gas Safe registered. Mr Shaw would be paid for the work and be responsible for paying Mr Bridgen.

    Mr Brigden later removed and re-installed the boiler between 1-8 October 2012 and the extension work was completed in July the following year.

    The construction was then inspected by the local authority who informed the homeowner he needed a certificate for the re-installation of the boiler. When he contacted Mr Shaw to get a certificate, Mr Shaw got in touch with Darren Bridgen, who told him his Gas Safe registration had expired.

    A Gas Safe Register engineer inspected the boiler and condemned it as ‘immediately dangerous’ and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation.

    HSE established that Mr Brigden had not been a member of the Gas Safety Register when the work was undertaken. In addition Mr Shaw had failed to fulfil his duty to ensure the work had been undertaken by a registered engineer.

    Anthony Shaw, 47, of Oakfield Road, Aylesbury, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £550 in costs as well as a £120 victim surcharge, after pleading guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

    Darren Brigden, 33, of Hawthorne Close, Aylesbury, was fined £1,300 and ordered to pay £550 in costs as well as a £120 victim surcharge, after pleading guilty to a breach of the same regulations.

    Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said:

    “Businesses should make reasonable efforts to obtain evidence that people they intend to use to carry out gas work, either under contract or on their own behalf, is a member, or is employed by a member, of Gas Safe Register. Mr Shaw neglected to do this.

    “Mr Bridgen was perfectly aware that he was not Gas Safe registered, even though he had been so before. It is extremely important that gas work is only undertaken by a person who has up to date competencies and holds current registration.

    “If gas appliances, such as boilers, are not properly installed there is a risk of fire, explosion, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”

    Russell Krämer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said:

    “Illegal gas work is dangerous and can put lives and property at risk. It’s vital that you employ a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out any gas work. Every registered gas engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card. Always ask to see the card and check their unique licence number with Gas Safe on the website www.GasSafeRegsiter.co.uk link to external website or call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500.”

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  • Kitchen fitter prosecuted for endangering homeowners’ lives

     

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    A Tyneside man has been sentenced for putting the lives of homeowners at risk after deceiving a local kitchen fitting company by claiming he was Gas Safe registered.

    Neil Scott, a self-employed kitchen fitter, was contracted by the company to carry out work at three properties in Newcastle where kitchens were being refurbished between 1 September and 31 December 2012.

    The work involved installing gas appliances, including gas hobs and in one case a central heating boiler.

    The kitchen fitting company later contacted Gas Safe to check the work and a Gas Safe regional investigations officer switched off the boiler when it was found to have faults that could have endangered life or property if operated.

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and Mr Scott was today (4 March) prosecuted at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court for multiple gas safety breaches.

    The court was told that it is a legal requirement that any work carried out on gas appliances must only be done by a Gas Safe engineer. When asked by the kitchen company, Mr Scott had fraudulently claimed he was Gas Safe registered. However, Mr Scott had never been Gas Safe registered and was not sufficiently competent to carry out the work.

    Neil Scott, 38, of Exeter Road, Wallsend, Newcastle was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 – three each of Regulation 3(3) and Regulation 3(7).

    Speaking after the case HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said:

    “Mr Scott displayed a deliberate and reckless approach to the law by putting the owners of these three properties at risk with a view to profiting financially.

    “Having deceived those involved into thinking he was Gas Safe registered he carried out work which in one instance could have resulted in someone being seriously injured or even killed.

    “This case should act as a reminder that HSE will prosecute those who flout the law in such a way, putting the lives of members of the public in danger.”

    Russell Krämer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said:

    “Illegal gas work is dangerous and can put lives and property at risk. It’s vital that you employ a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out any gas work. Every registered gas engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card. Always ask to see the card and check their unique licence number with Gas Safe on the website www.GasSafeRegsiter.co.uk link to external website or call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500.”

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  • Building firm in court over carbon monoxide risk to pregnant woman

     

    GAS SAFE NEWS

    A building firm has been fined after an eight-and-half-month pregnant woman and her husband showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning at their home in Kirkby.

    Topflite (North West) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that the flue for a gas fire had been blocked by rubble during a loft conversion in a neighbouring semi-detached property on Lauder Close.

    Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the building work had been carried out by the company, which trades at Topflite Loft Conversions, in the summer of 2013. A few months later, on 31 October 2013, the woman, who does not want to be named, turned on the gas fire in her lounge for the first time that winter.

    She spent most of the afternoon and evening in the lounge with her friend, who was also pregnant, and later her husband. The couple went to bed at 11pm but overnight the woman was vomiting and had flu-like symptoms.

    She spent the following day in bed and her husband also felt nauseous all day. They suspected they may have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and contacted a Gas Safe registered company.

    The firm found that the flue in the cavity wall between the two properties, which allowed fumes to escape through a vent on the roof, had become blocked by rubble. The company therefore issued a warning notice preventing the use of the fire, and the homeowner alerted HSE.

    When an inspector visited the neighbouring property, she found that a steel beam installed in the loft had broken through the flue and caused it to become blocked.

    Topflite (North West) Ltd, of Steeley Lane in Chorley, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,276 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 26 February 2015.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jacqueline Western said:

    “A pregnant woman and her husband were put at risk of suffering carbon monoxide poisoning because Topflite allowed a flue to become blocked while carrying out a loft conversion in a neighbouring house.

    “It’s vital that builders carefully consider the risks of any work they do in people’s homes, and that includes the impact it could have on attached properties. The work should have been properly planned so that the new steel beam could be installed without affecting the flue.

    “Building firms have a legal duty to ensure the lives of both their workers and people affected by their work are not put at risk as a result of their actions. Topflite failed to meet that requirement and found itself in court as a result.”

    More information on health and safety in the building industry is available at www.hse.gov.uk/construction.

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