A Chelmsford builder has received a suspended prison sentence after his faulty design and workmanship led to a family being exposed to deadly exhaust fumes from a gas boiler.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that a Gas Safe registered engineer spotted the danger during a visit in February 2014. He classified the boiler as ‘immediately dangerous’ and isolated it from the mains gas supply the same day.
Thankfully, the homeowners and their two young children suffered no known health effects. However, the family had to purchase a new boiler and stay with friends while it was fitted in cold winter conditions.
An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that Michael Garry Bowers, trading as Advanced Bowers Services, left the gas boiler flue exhaust outlet to terminate inside a fully-glazed conservatory he had built behind the family’s home in Black Notley in December 2013.
Michael Gary Bowers, Chelmsford, Essex, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete 280 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, between December 2013 and February 2014.
After the case, HSE inspector, Glyn Davies, said: “The lives of this young family were placed at risk after Mr Bowers glazed and sealed the conservatory, leaving the boiler exhaust flue to terminate inside it.
“Although he carried out no gas work personally at the property, and knew he should not conduct any work on the flue himself, he should have had the competence to appreciate the grave risk he was placing the family in.
“By failing to ensure that the exhaust flue was re-routed to terminate in open air outside the conservatory before it was glazed, Mr Bowers endangered the lives of a young family.
“Each year, around ten people die in the United Kingdom from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Many more suffer serious health effects, including paralysis and brain damage, from inhaling carbon monoxide. Fire and explosion may be further major risks of incompetent work with gas installations.”
Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: “If homeowners have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, they can speak to us. Every year we investigate thousands of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website.”