Don’t fall foul of illegal gas fitters

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances in public buildings can cause leaks, fires and explosions as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. Using someone other than a Gas Safe registered engineer to undertake gas work could put lives at risk.

According to Gas Safe Register, the UK’s official gas registration body, around two in three gas jobs carried out by illegal gas fitters are unsafe and one in five are so dangerous that they pose an immediate threat to life or property, resulting in the gas supply needing to be turned off. In the last year, Gas Safe Register has investigated more than 700 cases across the UK bringing the total number of cowboy gas fitters investigated since they replaced CORGI to more than 3,000.

Safety risks of illegal gas work

During 2011/2012 the Health & Safety Executive recorded 202 gas incidents in the UK. Of these cases, 168 caused carbon monoxide poisoning, 26 lead to a fire outbreak or explosion, 8 reported other forms of harmful exposure and 4 resulted in fatalities.

Carbon monoxide poisoning presents the greatest threat, since unlike a fire, carbon monoxide (CO) is not visible and has no distinguishing smell.

CO is a highly poisonous substance produced by the incomplete burning of gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), which can happen if a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. Inhaling even the smallest amount of CO can enter the blood stream and prevent red blood cells carrying oxygen to vital organs, which can cause paralysis, brain damage and in the worst case can be fatal.

Educating building owners and occupants about the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness – can help identify warning signs early. However, since many of these signs are symptomatic of flu, food poisoning and other viral infections, it is quite common to mistake this very serious poisoning for something else.

Financial risks of illegal gas work

It is estimated that the UK is wasting £100million a year to rectify illegal gas jobs carried out by tradesmen that are not qualified to work safely with gas. To help facilities managers, head teachers and local authorities spot unqualified gas fitters, Gas Safe Register has developed an accurate profile of those most likely to be involved in illegal gas work.

More than half (57 per cent) are sole traders and a third (33 per cent) work in companies employing fewer than four people. As well as carrying out gas work, many also undertake plumbing jobs (90%), bathroom fitting (81%), kitchen fitting (67%), general building (43%) and electrical work (43%). The saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” certainly applies here.

Gas Safe Register also believes that a higher percentage of illegal gas fitters advertise their services online and in local papers, as few check for registration; unlike directories such as the Yellow Pages and Thompson Local, which only take adverts from qualified gas engineers.

Using someone who is not on the register to install and maintain gas appliances in your building could cost you thousands of pounds in remedial work, impact negatively on your reputation and, most importantly, endanger lives.

Chief Executive for Gas Safe Register, Russell Kramer, said: “With around 1,000 injuries and 31 deaths resulting from gas related incidents since 2010, gas safety is something that must be taken seriously. By law, only Gas Safe registered engineers can work on gas appliances – whether in a school, public building or private home. If someone’s not registered then they are working illegally and putting lives at risk. You can confirm an engineer is registered by asking to see their Gas Safe Register ID card, checking the register on our website, or by calling us.”

The Vulcana ‘Gas Safe’ promise

Vulcana Gas Appliances has been providing heating solutions to schools, churches and other public buildings for more than 47 years and only employs registered Gas Safe engineers to conduct heater installations and servicing.

We provide fixed price heater service agreements, which are renewable every two years, across our entire product range to help you budget with confidence. We can also provide heater servicing contracts for other manufacturers’ products.

To arrange a free site visit to assess your need for heater servicing or replacement heaters, call us on 01444 415871 or complete our enquiry form.

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