Less than a month after a Suffolk plumber was given a suspended prison sentence for carrying out illegal and dangerous gas work, a Rotherham man has been prosecuted after carrying out illegal gas work and putting a family with a young boy at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning or explosion.
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Thomas Atkinson pretended to be officially registered with Gas Safe Register, showing the homeowner a false ID card before installing a gas fire, and then providing an invalid gas safety certificate. Rotherham Magistrates heard the family developed suspicions about the certificate and contacted Gas Safe Register, which confirmed it was false and sent one of their regional team to investigate.
The Gas Safe regional investigations officer found seven defects with the gas fire installation work, including two that were classed as ‘immediately dangerous’. The case was passed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted Mr Atkinson for five offences under the Gas Safety regulations. The court was told Mr Atkinson had installed a new gas fire on 12 May 2013 for the family but had to be chased for a gas safety certificate. When it did arrive, it was in the name of Mr Atkinson’s former employer.
HSE found Mr Atkinson had been registered under the firm’s name with Gas Safe, but had been removed in January 2012. He was not registered as a qualified gas engineer in his own name at the time of the fire installation and never had been. Two of the defects found with the work had the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning, a fire or explosion. A gas leak was traced to the inlet of the gas fire and gases produced on combustion were escaping from a part of the installation.
Atkinson was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £352 in costs after admitting breaching regulations 3(3), 3(7), 5(3), 7(3) and 26(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. HSE Inspector Mark Welsh, who investigated, said after the hearing: “The incident was preventable because Mr Atkinson should not have carried out the work in the first place.
“From his previous experience he would have been perfectly aware that registration with Gas Safe is a pre-requisite to being able to undertake gas work legally yet he went ahead with the job and then deliberately falsified a gas safety certificate. Illegal gas work is still a common occurrence and has the very real potential to lead to ill-health, injury or even fatality. Anyone wanting gas work done should make sure they employ a registered Gas Safe engineer.”
Further information about gas safety can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/gas. For further information about gas testing equipment, visit PASS Ltd’s Gas, HVAC and plumbing page.