News & Views

Gas safe?

BY Gary Foggo
Health & Safety
BG Orange

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted a gas engineer following an inspection by Gas Safe* which highlighted a number of defects in the way a central heating system had been installed in a domestic property, three of which constituted ‘a danger to life or property’. 

The gas engineer in question had falsely claimed be a member of Gas Safe by initially supplying a quotation on headed paper featuring the Gas Safe logo and then further paperwork featuring the logo on completion of the work. The engineer had previously held Gas Safe registration however this had expired in 2010 and the registration number he had been providing actually belonged to someone else.

There have been several cases where gas engineers have been prosecuted for carrying out work they were not qualified to undertake leaving the installation in unsafe condition. Unsafe gas appliances produce carbon monoxide, an invisible gas which is highly poisonous and exposure to it can lead to serious long term health problems and even death. An estimated 50 fatalities per year in the UK are attributed to carbon monoxide exposure.

Many people may unknowingly suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning since symptoms are similar to the flu. According to the NHS a headache is the most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms include dizziness and nausea, vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Any one of the following could be a sign that there is carbon monoxide present:  

  • Boiler pilot light or cooker flames burning orange, instead of blue
  • Sooty stains on or around gas appliances
  • Increased condensation inside windows 

If any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or signs of faulty gas appliances are present then you should immediately contact a Gas Safe registered engineer. However as we have seen having the Gas Safe logo on paperwork, for example, is no guarantee that the engineer in question is registered, qualified and will leave your appliance safe. Do you ever verify the credentials and competence of any contractors you use? 

So how do you know if your engineer is not only Gas Safe registered but also qualified to work on the appropriate gas appliance? Our top tip: check the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card, the front of the card will have:

  • The engineer’s photograph;
  • The start and expiry dates;
  • The license number;
  • The Gas Safe security hologram; and
  • Confirmation that the engineer is actually from the business you employed.

The back of the card lists the types of gas work the engineer is qualified to carry out and sets out whether or not their qualifications are in date.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the gas engineer you have employed or about the work they have carried out then you should contact Gas Safe and report the situation. It is no understatement to say that the consequences of having an ill-fitted gas appliance could be tragic.

*Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI as the gas registration body and is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey; by law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register.

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