Unregistered Wiltshire Gas Fitter Prosecuted

A Westbury man has been prosecuted for illegal and unsafe gas work after falsely claiming to be on the Gas Safe Register. Ken Pirie appeared before North Wiltshire Magistrates yesterday (16 April 2013) in relation to work on a gas boiler at an address in Oldfield Park, Westbury, on 15 March 2012.He claimed to be qualified to carry out work on gas appliances, but a subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution, established that he wasn’t registered with Gas Safe – a legal requirement for anyone undertaking such work.Magistrates heard that an investigator from Gas Safe Register went to the domestic address on 11 June 2012 following complaints from the householder. They discovered work had been done to the boiler that breached specifications for gas appliances and could be classed as unsafe.

Ken Pirie, of Timor Rd, Westbury, pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 80 hours unpaid community service and was also ordered to pay £450 compensation to the householder and £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Shaw said:

“Incorrectly fitted gas appliances can be highly dangerous and can lead to loss of life.

“Those who undertake gas work must be on the Gas Safe Register and be competent to carry out such work.  Anyone who works on gas appliances without being registered is breaking the law.

“Ken Pirie knew this and falsely claimed to be Gas Safe registered to compensate. Yet he clearly wasn’t competent, as his unsafe handiwork testified.

“This case highlights the need for householders to check the credentials of anyone working at their property, especially where gas is involved ”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand.

“You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk

At Acorn EHS we work with small contractors to ensure they are legally compliant if you run a small enginnering busisness contact us on 03334 560 999 we can help.

Unregistered gas fitter sentenced for false claims and endangering life

An East Devon gas fitter who risked the lives of a young couple through his dangerous work falsely claimed to be on the Gas Safe Register, a court has heard.

Luke Potts, who trades as Devon Plumber, installed a new gas boiler at a home in Chelmsford Road, Exeter, in May 2012 that was classed as “immediately dangerous” when checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

He claimed to be a registered engineer himself, an untruth that came to light after the householders complained about his dangerous work.

Exeter Magistrates’ were told today (10 April) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Gas Safe Register found the flue for the boiler had been incorrectly fitted, which could have led to lethal carbon monoxide leaking into the property.

In addition, the gas meter box had been altered by drilling a hole in it to feed in a new gas pipe, which could have allowed gas to leak into the building.

Although Mr Potts was unregistered, having failed to renew his registration in January 2012, he continued to display the Gas Safe Register logo on his website. The householders relied on this when they asked him to fit the boiler, assuming he was fully accredited and qualified.

Luke Potts, of Cornhill, Ottery St Mary, was given a 20 week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Jones, said:

“Mr Potts’ poor work could have had tragic consequences for the householders, who put their lives in his hands.

“They believed he was a registered engineer and asked him to do the work as a result. If an individual is working on gas appliances and installations is not on the Gas Safe Register they are working illegally.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive for Gas Safe Register said:

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by fitters who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely on gas. It’s therefore vital the public always make sure the person working on their gas appliances is on the Gas Safe Register.

“You can check your engineer is legal and safe by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card. You can also check the engineer’s registration number by calling us on 0800 408 5500, or visiting the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website.”

Further information on gas safety can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/gas.

Companies fined £450,000 after driver dies in roadworks

Two companies have been ordered to pay a total of £650,000 in fines and costs after a member of the public was killed in a collision in roadworks on the A50 near Uttoxeter.

William Collins, 49, of Weston Coyney, Stoke-on-Trent, was driving along the westbound carriageway at around 4am on 25 November 2007 when he failed to negotiate a bend at a road closure and collided with a stationary flatbed lorry owned by Enterprise (AOL) Ltd.

The father of two died at the scene from multiple injuries.

The A50 was closed at the junction with the A522 while works were carried out to overhead power lines and the central reservation barrier. Enterprise (AOL) Ltd was responsible for the traffic management associated with the works, which were being managed by Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Ltd.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the traffic management was unsuitable as it was not clear that the road ahead was closed, and that drivers had to exit the A50 at the junction with the A522.

The investigation also identified that Enterprise (AOL) Ltd failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and that Balfour Beatty failed to properly assess the risk assessment or that the system being proposed was adequate. In addition, Balfour Beatty also failed to adequately monitor the work of its sub-contractors.

The A50 had been reduced to one lane prior to the works and vehicles were then diverted off the main carriageway and onto the A522, which involved a sharp left hand bend. However, the speed limit had not been reduced so vehicles were still able to travel at up to 70mph.

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Ltd, of Ashwood Way, Basingstoke, Hampshire, was today (22 February) fined £225,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in costs at Liverpool Crown Court after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following a two week trial at Stafford Crown Court in October 2012.

Enterprise (AOL) Ltd, of Centurion Way, Leyland, Lancashire, was also found guilty of the same offence, as well as breaching Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 for failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. It was fined £225,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

Both companies have lodged an appeal against conviction.

After the hearing HSE inspector Katharine Walker said:

“Enterprise relied on a generic risk assessment for a lane closure rather than properly assessing the road and implementing a suitable system of traffic management for a full closure.

“As the organisation responsible for what happened on the road, Balfour Beatty should have checked the assessment and identified this failing.

“Instead a man was killed and never made it home – a tragic death that could have been avoided.”

Hampshire engineering firm fined for safety failings

A Southampton engineering firm has been fined after an employee seriously injured his foot on a poorly-guarded aluminium casting machine.

Paul Thornton, 52, from Southampton, had to have a toe on his right foot amputated as a result of the incident at WH Rowe Limited, on Bond Street, on 9 May 2012. He also sustained five fractures to his remaining toes and cut his head.

He was unable to work for 13 weeks, but has since returned.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard today (12 March) that Mr Thornton was working on a machine that casts large fan blades from molten aluminium, and was using a new mould.

While operating the machine his foot was crushed and trapped by a lower ram. He was only freed when colleagues were able to support him and reverse the machine to release his foot.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that safety devices fitted to the casting machine had been bypassed and were not suitable or sufficient to prevent access to dangerous moving parts. Had the machine been better guarded, with the safety devices properly configured, then the incident could have been prevented.

HSE also established that the company had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the operation of the machine, which would have enabled them to establish the standard of necessary safeguarding.

WH Rowe, of Quayside Road, Southampton, was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £4,694 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing HSE inspector Alec Ryan said:

“This incident was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had WH Rowe carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and taken the necessary measures to make the machine safe.

“The machine in question was very powerful and it is wrong that a worker was put at unnecessary risk because safety devices weren’t working.

“Incidents of this kind are all too common and it is vital employers prevent access or exposure to dangerous moving parts at all times.”