A plumber from Essex was recently sentenced to 150 hours of community service by a court because he had been carrying out illegal and dangerous gas work on a family home.

The plumber from Tiptree, where the illegal work took place, had been hired to carry out plumbing work for an ongoing job to build a cloakroom in the downstairs of the property.

During the course of this plumbing work, he agreed to install a gas-fired boiler. However, this plumber was not a qualified gas engineer registered with Gas Safe Register, as is legally required.

He began by attaching the boiler to an existing flue and didn’t perform the necessary checks. He finished the work by leaving the boiler with an ‘unstable flame’ due to incorrect combustion. This put the household at serious risk of poisoning.

Gas Safe Register classed the work as ‘immediately dangerous’ following an inspection and passed their findings on to the Health and Safety Executive as a matter of urgency.

Luckily the residents weren’t hurt and the Magistrates Court in Colchester sentenced the plumber to community service amounting to 150 hours, to be undertaken over the following year. The court also ordered him to pay costs of £500 following his guilty plea to three breaches of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998.

HSE Inspectors said the plumber should have known not to carry out work for a job he had no qualifications or certification to legally perform.

As a plumber he would have known the importance of qualifying to carry out work and registering with industry recognised schemes. WaterSafe are the plumbing safety facility and bring together the seven approved contractor schemes for the plumbing industry. Just like the gas and electrical industry, there are certain requirements and regulations regarding installation and work carried out on domestic and commercial properties.

In this case it is important to understand that CO poisoning and gas explosions are a real possibility when rogue and unqualified people carry out gas installation work.

Gas Safe Register are encouraging the public to always use registered engineers and to check the Gas Safe ID card, carried by all registered and legal engineers. Gas Safe Register also say that the public can easily contact them if they are unsure of an engineer’s status.

Written by Sara Thomson