The Gas Safe Register was launched in 2009 and a lot of work has been done since in highlighting the need to use properly registered and accredited gas engineers across the UK, as well as promoting gas safety in general. Gas Safety Week 2014 ran from 15th – 21st September reached an audience of around 125 million with national advertising and headlines being made across all media platforms.
Over the last 4 years, the Gas Safe Register’s team has worked hard on combatting illegal gas work which it then hands to the Health & Safety Executive for prosecutions. The team has looked at over 3,000 illegal cases and found almost half to be ‘unsafe’ with a fifth of those ‘immediately dangerous.’ This highlights just how many people are putting themselves and their families at risk by using illegal and unregistered gas workers.
The GSR undertook a survey in 2014 that was completed by over 1,600 gas engineers that work across the UK. It showed some interesting and concerning results:
57% of those surveyed had found either a gas boiler, cooker or fire in a customer’s home that needed to be turned off immediately. Not to have turned these off immediately would have very likely led to an explosion, a fire, a leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.
40% had gone to a job and found work they suspected to have been carried out by an unregistered or illegal gas fitter.
The importance of this issue cannot be overstated, as the consequences of using an illegal gas fitter can literally be a life or death situation for you and your family. The seriousness of these crimes have recently been shown by some prosecutions in court. Between January and October 2014, the Health & Safety Executive prosecuted almost 40 people for illegal gas work.
Some recent high profile prosecutions include:
An illegal gas worker from Suffolk who illegally removed a boiler and left a gas pipe open and uncapped. Classed as ‘immediately dangerous’ by the Gas Safe Register, he was given a prison sentence and community service.
Another bogus gas worker from Somerset falsely claimed to be a Gas Safe Register engineer and provided false paperwork to back up his claim. He worked on a boiler and left it in a dangerous state. As a result, he was prosecuted and fined £2100, ordered to pay £2000 in costs and £125 compensation.
A plumber from County Durham was prosecuted by the HSE after providing fraudulent gas safety records for three separate properties, which falsely claimed safety checks had been carried out. The plumber was found to have never been Gas Safe registered and was not qualified to carry out the work. He was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, given 200 hours community service and ordered to pay £500 in costs.
These convictions show just how seriously the Gas Safe Register, The HSE and the courts take the illegal work done by individuals who are not qualified to conduct the work they are doing. Of the nearly 40 cases between January and October 2014, convictions resulted in approximately £220,000 in fines, over 100 days of community service and over 7 years of prison sentences.
Whether you are a customer or a registered gas engineer, if you suspect someone of carrying out illegal work, it’s your duty to report them, as you may be helping to save lives. If you believe someone is working without a valid Gas Safe registration you can call 0800 408 5577 and leave details anonymously. Alternatively you can report an illegal gas fitter online.
Your information will be looked at by the National Investigations Team and compiled into a report, with the Team looking at the suspicious gas work within 10 working days. If they can identify that the person who carried out the work is unregistered, the Team will report to the HSE within 10 working days and support any prosecutions it decides to proceed with.
Hopefully 2015 will see an even greater amount of awareness of the importance of gas safety, with a greater clamp-down on those practising illegally. We support anything that improves the level of service the public receives and any measures to keep them as safe as possible from rogue traders and the adverse effects of poorly executed gas work.
Article by Benjamin Clarke