Is you gas appliance safe?

Around 20 people die every year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by unsafe gas appliances. Landlords are legally required to arrange an annual inspection of their properties by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are the authority charged with enforcement with regard to gas safety. This involves amongst other things ensuring that gas fitters are Gas Safe registered and also that landlords comply with the Gas Safety regulations.

A Wigan landlord has been prosecuted for putting the life of a tenant at risk by falsifying a gas safety document. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against the landlord after it discovered he had changed the dates on the record for an annual gas safety check to suggest it was still valid. The tenant contacted the authorities after suspecting a carbon monoxide leak at the house she rented. A National Grid engineer visited the property and sealed off the gas supply after finding a leak. The court was told that following the expiry of the valid Gas Safety Certificate the landlord provided a copy of the gas safety document with the dates altered so that it appeared to still be current. As a result  he received a community order requiring him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £600 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Speaking after the hearing an HSE Inspector said: "If the tenant hadn't contacted National Grid after suspecting a carbon monoxide leak then I dread to think what could have happened to her. It is a legal requirement on all landlords to have an annual gas safety check and Mr McBride put the life of his tenant at risk by failing to arrange for a registered gas engineer to visit the property for more than two years."

Anyone with gas appliances in their home need to be aware of the importance of properly maintaining and servicing them. Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on gas appliances.  By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. It has replaced CORGI registration. You should only use a Gas Safe registered engineer for work on any gas appliance. Dangerous gas work can be deadly and using a professional is essential. Badly fitted and poorly serviced appliances can cause gas leak, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. All Gas safe registered engineers carry an ID card.

Landlords have specific legal responsibilities to their tenants when it comes to gas safety. They are required, by law, to have all gas appliances checked every 12 months, and provide the inspection report to the tenant. In addition to carrying out annual Gas Safety checks, landlords can protect their tenants from the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning by installing carbon monoxide detectors in their properties. The detector will warn tenants of the presence of carbon monoxide. Exposure to carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, causing the body’s vital organs to fail. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness and loss of consciousness. Because carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour. Gas Safe Register strongly recommends you fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, it is no substitute for having an annual gas safety check and regular servicing by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A carbon monoxide alarm looks similar to a smoke alarm and is very easy to fit by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm from £15 at your local DIY store, supermarket or from your energy supplier.

Parkinson Property

3rd September 2015


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