Health and Safety Executive
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Carbon monoxide awareness week warning to rogue gas fitters

Rogue gas fitters are being warned that they will be taken to task over shoddy jobs that risk lives.

The Health and Safety Executive is using Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (16-20 November) to renew its commitment to bring them to justice.

According to provisional figures, HSE successfully prosecuted 28 people for breaching gas legislation in 2008/09, covering 66 separate offences. 173 enforcement notices were also served during this period. (see notes to editors).

A number of these cases involved engineers  found carrying out gas work without being registered or working outside their competency − doing jobs which they are not formally qualified for.

Recent cases have included a Brecon gas fitter jailed in July after two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning following work he had done on a central heating system. His accreditation to work on that type of system had lapsed and his knowledge was not up to date.

In a second case, a Warwick gas engineer was fined £5000 and ordered to pay more than £20,000 in costs in July after he did not abide by an order to register or stop doing gas work. (see notes to editors)

The Gas Safe Register, the body responsible for registration of gas engineers, recently launched a review of the enforcement regime to see how it can be improved further. Stakeholders including the industry, engineers and victim support groups are being asked for their ideas.

Peter Brown Head of Work Environment, Radiation and Gas Division, said;

"We are tireless in our pursuit of those engineers who don't take their responsibilities seriously and cost or risk lives as a result.

"The cases we bring take significant time and resource to investigate, but the courts have recognised the seriousness of these offences and have handed down prison sentences and substantial fines.

"It's important that the authorities, charities and support groups work together to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide and the simple measures people can take to protect themselves and their families such as installing a CO alarm.

"Using a registered gas fitter is essential and this message does seem to be getting through. More than176,000 people have phoned or checked online to see that the engineers they use are registered or qualified since the beginning of April.

Said Lord McKenzie, DWP Minister with responsibility for Health and Safety:

"It is important that we continue to raise public awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure that consumers can have confidence in measures taken to protect themselves.  

"The new Gas Safe Register is helping deliver better safety standards and has already registered more businesses and engineers than ever before. This is very encouraging in the fight to force the illegal workers out of the gas industry and provides people with confidence that any work undertaken in their homes will be carried out safely."

Added Peter Eldridge, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register:

"Our focus is entirely on keeping people 'gas safe' and we are working very closely with the HSE and others to ensure that the public understand the importance of always using registered engineers whenever they have gas work carried out."

Notes to editors

  1. The figures above only relate to breaches of specific gas legislation and does not include enforcement under other health and safety legislation such as under the Health and safety at Work etc. Act 1974 or under legislation not enforced by HSE, e.g. relating to changes of manslaughter.
  2. The prosecutions referred to above can be viewed in full at http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2009/coiw37309.htm1 and http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2009/coiwm27409.htm2
  3. The Gas Safe Register is the only gas engineer registration scheme approved by HSE under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. All gas engineers wanting to undertake domestic and certain other gas work in Great Britain from 1 April 2009 need, under those Regulations, to be registered with the Gas Safe Register in order to be able lawfully to carry out any work on gas fittings, which includes gas appliances. For more information visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk3
  4. CO-Awareness is a registered charity that supports the many victims of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning and other products of combustion (POC), their families and friends. For more information on CO Awareness Week visit www.covictim.org4

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