A plumber has been convicted of failing to adhere to Gas Safety Regulations and sentenced to carry out 180 hours of community work within the next 12 months.
Darren Queeley, who lives in Hampton, Middlesex was taken to Court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over unsafe gas work he carried out on a property in Milton Keynes in January 2013.
Series of Legal Breaches
Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Queeley had committed several breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. When he carried out the work in the Arncliffe area of the city, he told the owner of the vacant rental property that he was gas safety registered only to work in London; when in fact he held no such credentials at all.
After completing the work, he turned on the gas supply and left the boiler running, but then advised the property owner it needed to be checked by a gas fitter who was registered as Gas Safe in Milton Keynes.
The owner carried out this instruction and when a registered fitter arrived, he found the work was faulty and turned the gas supply off. He noted that the flue had been left in an incorrect position and said the boiler posed an "immediately dangerous" level of hazard to anyone in the building. The registered fitter then contacted the HSE, which brought the prosecution against Mr Queeley.
Charges and Sentence
Mr Queeley was charged with four counts of breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. They related to the fact he carried out the work without any gas safety registration, failed to fulfil his legal obligation to leave paperwork regarding registration with the Gas Safe Register in the hands of the householder, falsely claimed to be on the register and carried out work that posed a danger to life and limb.
He pleaded guilty to all charges and, in addition to his community service, was ordered to pay £2,055 in costs.
HSE Warns over Gas Safety
The dangers of unsafe work on gas appliances were emphasised by HSE inspector Robert Meardon after the case. He commented, "Darren Queeley has shown a flagrant disregard for the law. He carried out gas work whilst unregistered, leaving a domestic boiler in a dangerous condition and likely to leak gas.
"People can and do die as a result of gas leaks. It is therefore vital that only registered gas engineers, who are trained and competent, work on gas appliances and fittings.
"Unless you are on the register, you should not undertake this work. If you are a landlord or homeowner, you need to make sure you only use someone who is on the register."
Chief executive of Gas Safe Russell Kramer said the case is one of thousands every year in which illegal gas appliance work is undertaken. He said Gas Safe registered workers carry a card to prove this and householders should always ask to see it before any work is carried out.
Other HSE Cases
Other recent HSE prosecutions for gas work carried out without Gas Safe accreditation include the fining of two unregistered fitters who left a gas fire in an unsafe state in Plymouth, plus the jailing last month of a Derbyshire plumber whose bathroom renovation work at a home in Chesterfield had involved him moving a boiler, an act that created a risk of deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
By Francesca Whitney