Is your plumber Gas Safe?

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. The following cases illustrate their responsibilities in respect of the Private Rented Sector.

A Cambridge landlord risked the health of his tenants by failing to ensure gas appliances were safe to use and then produced a fake certificate to give the impression they were safe, a court heard recently. The landlord knowingly attempted to deceive officials after shirking his legal responsibilities in relation to a house he rented to four tenants. Cambridge City Council issued a notice in October 2009 requiring him to produce a valid Landlords Gas Safety Record for the property. He failed to do so, so the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was notified and served an Improvement Notice that he also ignored leading to his prosecution. On the day of the court hearing he presented a copy of the required gas safety certificate as evidence, which purported to be valid for the dates on the Improvement Notice. However, HSE checks revealed it was a fake. The pad from which the certificate was taken wasn't printed until August 2011 - some eight months after the record had allegedly been authorised.

When confronted with his deceit he pleaded guilty to two charges under Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for his legal failings and dishonesty. He was sentenced to spend a total of two months in jail for each offence, with the sentences to run concurrently but suspended for 12 months. He was also required to wear an electronic tag for two months and was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of 4,768.

In another recent case an unregistered gas fitter from Morden has been fined for endangering a Tooting family after he illegally and unsafely fitted a new boiler at their home. He was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of installing unsafe gas fittings in a family's rented property in December 2011.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that he removed the family's boiler and installed a new one, leaving 13 defects, including one identified as an 'immediate danger' to life or property if an appliance had been left connected or operated. The court heard that HSE was made aware that  the gas fitter was operating without being 'Gas Safe' registered and did not have the expertise to carry out gas work.

Inspectors served a Prohibition Notice on him preventing him from carrying out further work until he was recognised as competent and registered with the Gas Safe Register. He was fined a total of 2,000 and ordered to pay 1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Saif Deen said: "Unregistered installers who carry out gas work expose people to unacceptable risks that can prove fatal. This family's boiler had serious defects because the fitter lacked the appropriate skills to perform this work safely. He knew he wasn't Gas Safe registered, and although he understood the legal requirement to be registered he was under the impression that the work he undertook didn't constitute gas work because he didn't tamper with the supply. This is a worrying misconception amongst some plumbers and trades people - although the Gas Safety Regulations make it clear that only authorised engineers should carry out any work involving gas fittings or servicing. Gas Safe Registration is in place to ensure that only those who achieve and can demonstrate competence are allowed to work on gas systems"

Landlords should always check that the plumber they are using is Gas Safe registered and you can easily check online at www.gassaferegister.co.uk. You can also ring them for free on the phone number 0800 408 5500. Landlords must have gas appliances check at least every twelve months and provide a certificate to their tenant.

Parkinson Property

4th February 2013

 

 
 
 
 
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