22 HPM 0813

HPM August 2013

WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com GASSAFECOLUMN Get qualified or face the consequences Gas Safe Register inspects all types of gas work from domestic gas appliances to large commercial appliances. Barrie Edgar, head of field services, shares some of its findings which reveal the dangers of commercial appliances and reminds engineers not to work without competence... Gas Safe Register is committed to keeping the public gas safe. This includes helping people stay gas safe in their homes, when they’re on holiday and even when they are at work or, perhaps, eating out at a restaurant. In the past year, the Register has inspected over 250 commercial gas appliances in a range of locations, including hotels, restaurants and takeaways, all of which have been worked on illegally. We know from our own investigations that when it comes to domestic illegal work 56% of jobs are unsafe. However, in commercial properties the volume of unsafe appliances is higher. Our inspections in the past year revealed that 63% of commercial appliances were unsafe. This means that almost two out of three appliances in these commercial properties if left unchecked could have resulted in a gas leak, explosion, fire or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In a lot of cases, this dangerous work was not only putting employees at these properties at risk - but also the public. INSPECTION PROGRAMMER Engineers may assume that this level of unsafe work is carried out by cowboy gas fitters who are not qualified. In some instances, we have found that this is the case. However, we have also found a concerning trend where registered businesses are carrying out this work despite not being qualified to work on commercial gas installations. In fact, over the last two years our inspection programmer has found 215 registered engineers working out of scope in the commercial arena. In following up with these engineers and businesses it is not always clear whether their working on commercial appliances without being qualified is done knowingly or unknowingly. In one case, an engineer stated he thought the part of the commercial installation he was found working on was domestic, in another the engineer simply did not recognise or understand there was a difference. In light of this, we want to remind and warn all businesses that being registered with Gas Safe does not mean you are automatically qualified or legal to work across all gas appliances in both domestic and commercial properties. Engineers need to be qualified for the work they are doing and working out of competency is not only unsafe, it is illegal. Under Gas Safety (Installation An engineer must never think that just because they can fit a domestic hob they can fit a commercial catering hob too and Use) regulations, if the engineer carries out work they are not qualified or registered to do, then they are breaking the law. Some engineers may find it difficult to understand why they should be put in the same bracket as hardcore illegal fitters that have never been registered. However, as our inspection findings have shown, working on appliances that you are not qualified and competent to do so can, and does, result in dangerous appliances that ultimately put the public at risk. There have been cases which have come to court and illustrate this issue. Duncan Frere was prosecuted by the Health and safety Executive(HSE) in April 2012 after carrying out work on a number of appliances at two takeaway restaurants in Ipswich. Although Mr Frere was a registered engineer, he was only registered and competent to carry out work on domestic appliances. Upon inspection, the appliances at take-away restaurants that he had worked on were found to be unsafe, posing a danger to both the restaurants’ employees and customers. As a consequence of his actions, Mr Frere was ordered to pay a £4,000 fine and £2,500 in costs. Thankfully Mr Frere’s dodgy work did not result in death or injury. However, this isn’t always the case. For instance, Christopher Bates and Lewis Rees of BR Greenwell Heating went to fix a boiler at an office block in October 2010. While the pair were registered with Gas Safe, they did not have the relevant qualifications to work on commercial boilers. After completing the work, an engineer was called to the block after claims that gas could be smelt. The engineer, unrelated to BR Greenwell Heating, went to inspect the work during which he was almost killed by CO fumes being given off by the boiler and was rushed to hospital. Mr Rees and Mr Bates were prosecuted by the HSE in November 2011 and were fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000. These cases demonstrate both the dangers and the legal repercussions that come as a result of engineers working outside of their competency. Commercial appliances and domestic appliances by their nature are very different, therefore, an engineer must never think that just because they can fit a domestic hob that they can fit a commercial catering hob too. If you are an engineer that wants to work on commercial appliances our message is simple: get qualified and register, or face the consequences. For more information about competency, visit the gas safe register website at: www.gassaferegister.co.uk 22 AUGUST 2013 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY


HPM August 2013
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