Cornish fireplace firm director used illegal gas fitter

hseAn illegal gas fitter and the director of the company that hired him have been fined after dangerous work in six homes in Cornwall put families at risk.

Varcurn Marble company director, Lee Curnow, contracted Mark Lawson, an unregistered gas fitter, to install gas fires at six homes in the Camborne, Redruth, Truro and Helston areas between January 2012 and October 2013.

The incidents were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the pair at Bodmin Magistrates.

The HSE launched an investigation after a Gas Safe registered engineer found significant failings in the work carried out by Mr Lawson, following reports of fumes from a gas fire at one of the properties.

The court heard that Mr Curnow did not make suitable checks to see if Mr Lawson was on the Gas Safe Register, a legal requirement for anyone carrying out gas work. Of six gas fires installed by Mr Lawson, four were classed as immediately dangerous, meaning, if operated or left connected to a gas supply, there would be immediate danger to life or property. One was classed

“at risk” with one or more faults that could constitute a danger to life or property, and the sixth had a previously reported gas leak following work by Mark Lawson, which would be classed as ‘immediately dangerous’.

On at least two occasions, Mr Lawson falsely claimed to be on the Gas Safe Register by using the registration name and number of a properly registered gas engineer on the commissioning documents for fires he installed.

Mr Lawson pleaded guilty to three breaches of gas safety regulations and was fined a total of £10,666 and ordered to pay £274 in costs.

Mr Curnow pleaded guilty to a single breach of gas safety regulations and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £274 in costs.

HSE inspector, Simon Jones, said:

“Mr Lawson put lives at risk by deliberately claiming to be a Gas Safe registered engineer and then carrying out substandard work which was then classed by a qualified engineer as immediately dangerous.

“Only qualified and registered engineers are allowed to carry out gas work and by his illegal actions, Mr Lawson misled customers into believing he could do the work.

“Mr Curnow also risked the lives of his customers by failing to check if Mr Lawson was on the Gas Safe Register by asking to see his register membership card, checking the installer page on the register website or calling Gas Safe Register.”