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GENERAL CONTRACTOR CARRIED OUT ILLEGAL GAS WORK

Community service order imposed on unregistered builder

A self-employed builder has been given a Community Service Order after he carried out unsafe gas installation work at a house near Dumfries.

Kevin Graham was carrying out general building and plastering work when he offered to install a new gas fire which he said was “relatively easy to do”. Mr Graham was not a Gas Safe registered engineer. In January 2010 local plumbing and heating company examined the fire after the owner noticed a smell of gas. A competent and qualified gas engineer carried out a visual check and identified a gas leak. The company raised their concerns about the fire with HSE.

A Gas Safe Register Inspector visited the property and found a loose fitting and an 11m supply pipe had been installed incorrectly creating a further risk of gas leakage. The investigation revealed the flue was not functioning properly with a risk that smoke and fumes could re-enter the property. Mr Graham left unsealed gaps within the builders opening of the fire and wood/expanding foam that presented a very high risk of causing a fire. 

Offences caused risks from carbon monoxide, fire and explosion.

At Dumfries Sheriff Court (11 October 2011) Kevin Graham, of Lockerbie, was given a 240 hours Community Service Order after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Regulation 3(3) and 26(1) and Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Russell Berry said:

“In carrying out this work while not registered and competent to do so, Mr Graham put those living at Greenbank Cottage at risk not only from carbon monoxide poisoning but also from fire and explosion.

On average, 20 people each year die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by poorly installed, maintained or ventilated gas appliances and flues. Many more become seriously ill and in extreme cases, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause paralysis and brain damage. In this case, the occupiers of this house were very lucky indeed not to have suffered any medical ill effects.

Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register said:

“We work closely with the HSE to investigate unregistered gas fitters and welcome successful prosecutions such as this.

All gas engineers have to be Gas Safe registered – it’s the law. We urge everyone to take care and be gas safe by only using registered engineers for any gas work. You can check if an engineer is registered by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk or calling 0800 408 5500.”

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