Firm fined after hotel guests put at risk from unsafe gas boilers

Published:  29 August, 2013

Hotel guests were put at risk from unsafe gas boilers for nearly two years, Blackpool Magistrates Court has heard.

North West Mechanicals Ltd (NWML) and a senior manager at the firm were prosecuted on 28 August for safety failings by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after installing two industrial boilers at the Glendower Hotel in Lytham St Annes between November 2009 and March 2010.

The company was paid over £43,000 to carry out the work despite not being Gas Safe registered or having any qualified employees.

The firm did become registered in March 2010 – partway through the boiler installation – but only to carry out domestic gas work. The firm was still not qualified or registered for commercial work.

Once the company had finished installing the boilers, it arranged for a specialist engineer to commission them, the court heard. He raised concerns that the boilers had not been satisfactorily ventilated but NWML still issued a certificate to the hotel to say the boilers were safe to use.

When a registered gas engineer from another company visited the hotel in September 2011 to carry out a routine service, he identified several faults with the installation and immediately disconnected the boilers.

NWML was found guilty of breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 on 28 August, and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £11,247 in prosecution costs.

Senior contracts manager for NWML David Hanmer, 67, received two concurrent eight-week prison sentences, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £8,976 in costs.

"Staff and guests at the hotel were put at risk of suffering carbon monoxide poisoning or being injured in a gas explosion because of the unsafe way in which NWML had installed the boilers,” said HSE inspector Stuart Kitchingman.

"For the majority of the time the firm was installing the boilers it was not approved to carry out any kind of gas work – let alone to work with commercial boilers.

"All gas engineers must, by law, be registered with Gas Safe to prove they are qualified to carry out work safely. NWML ignored this and put lives in danger as a result.”