In recent weeks, criminal prosecutions for breaches of Gas Safe regulations have resulted in tough sentencing, signalling that the courts are showing no leniency to those who breach industry standards.
Manchester-based fitter, Christopher Dignam, trading as Blue Flame Plumbing & Heating Services, advertised in local publications, using a Gas Safe Register logo and a fake registration number.
Investigations found that he had never been registered with Gas Safe and work carried out by him was also faulty.
Dignam pleaded guilty to two breaches of Regulations 3(3), and for breaching 3(7) and 26(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 12 months custody, suspended for two years and was ordered to pay £460 and £400 compensation to two homeowners, as well as £3,000 costs.
His case comes a week after Walsall plumber, Alan Nicholas Price, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, for carrying out work without being registered.
Last month, a Darlington man was jailed for 18 months for pretending to be a Gas Safe engineer and signing official records in the name of a legitimate gas engineer.
Meanwhile, a Devon gas engineer, who undertook work after his registration with Gas Safe had expired, has been hit with a £1,500 fine and £2,000 costs. Peter Strudwick, appeared at Barnstaple Magistrates Court after undertaking commercial work despite his membership with Gas Safe having lapsed some seven months before.
Lara Murray, a health and safety expert with Palmers, said: “These cases all serve to demonstrate that the courts have very little sympathy for gas engineers who are in breach of their industry’s safety regulations.”
According to Gas Safe Register’s latest research, around 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out every year by illegal fitters who aren’t properly qualified, putting people at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions.
The Register has its own team of inspectors searching out rogue fitters and has investigated almost 5,000 illegal jobs in recent years.
The team found that three in five of the jobs it investigated were in an unsafe condition and, worryingly, one in five were deemed to be so dangerous that the appliance had to be disconnected immediately.
Lara added: “The fact that the Gas Safe Register, the Health & Safety Executive and the courts are all taking a very tough stance on such breaches will hopefully send a timely message to rogue fitters. It also serves to remind construction firms to ensure their sub-contractors records are checked and details of their professional qualifications are updated regularly to ensure compliance.”
For information on issues relating to health and safety and employment issues affecting the construction and engineering industry, please contact Palmers specialist construction team.