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Staffordshire Gas Engineer Fined Following Illegal Gas Work

By Kevin Burke
8th January, 2015

Unregistered gas fitter sentencedA Staffordshire gas fitter has been handed a fine after potentially putting people's lives in danger by illegally working on gas appliances.

Andrew Houghton, 47, a self-employed trader of Bolton Drive in Morden, Surrey, fitted a gas boiler in an Alrewas residence between August 15th and 21st 2013, despite not being on the Gas Safe Register.

On January 7th 2015, Stafford Magistrates Court was told that Gas Safe experts subsequently examined the boiler and discovered a number of faults with the appliance, including the absence of a thermostat, inadequate flues, and a condenser drain that had been positioned incorrectly. The boiler was therefore classed as 'immediately dangerous'.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the issue and discovered that Mr Houghton could not legally work on gas fittings as he was not a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Accordingly, magistrates fined him £2,800 and told him to pay £868 in costs after he admitted breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations.

The regulation Mr Houghton broke is regulation 3 (3), which makes it illegal for self-employed people to work on gas service pipework or gas fittings unless they are a member of an approved class of persons, i.e. on the Gas Safe Register.

The Gas Safe Register maintains the list of sole operatives and businesses that are competent to work on gas appliances and fittings in Great Britain, so Mr Houghton should have been registered with the Gas Safe Register and assessed by the body for the work he did at the Alrewas property.

Every year, around 10 people lose their lives as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improperly ventilated, maintained or installed gas appliances. Many more develop serious health problems after breathing in carbon monoxide, including brain damage and paralysis. Dangerous gas appliances also create a major fire and explosion risk.

Following the hearing, Wayne Owen, an inspector for the HSE, said that it is "fortunate" Mr Houghton's gas work did not lead to death and injury.

He explained that everyone who works on gas appliances and gas pipes without being on the Gas Safe Register is "breaking the law", and that Mr Houghton was "flouting laws" that are intended to protect people from faulty and substandard gas work.

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