Shoddy gas work endangers lives at Newton Abbot home

Published:  19 September, 2013

Three gas engineers who put a family at risk by failing to identify gas safety failings have been fined.

In a prosecution brought yesterday (18 September) by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Newton Abbot Magistrates' Court was told that all three men separately completed annual gas safety checks at the rented Newton Abbot property on behalf of a landlord, but overlooked obvious concerns. This was despite them being legally authorised and seemingly competent to undertake gas work.

Magistrates heard that a tenant complained of feeling ill as a result of inhaling fumes from a gas fire. The matter was passed to HSE, who established that Stephen Carter of Newton Abbot was asked to carry out safety checks in December 2010. He issued a gas safety certificate – even though a fire and back boiler were inadequately ventilated and sealed – and failed to check the supply of combustion air. This meant the products of combustion, including poisonous carbon monoxide gas, could escape into the room.

His son Matthew Carter was asked by the landlord to carry out the next annual safety check in November 2011, and also issued a certificate without identifying the same problems.

In September 2012, Brian McManus of Queensway, Torquay was contacted by the landlord to carry out the safety check. Although he identified problems with ventilation, he did not isolate the gas fire and proceeded to carry out unsatisfactory repairs.

Stephen Carter pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was fined a total of £750 and ordered to pay costs of £734. Matthew Carter pleaded guilty to the same breaches and was also fined £750 with costs of £734.

Brian McManus pleaded guilty to a separate single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the same two Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 failings. He was fined a total of £750 and ordered to pay costs of £375.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: "The three engineers failed in their duty to identify and repair the serious safety issues, and fell well short of the standards you expect from seemingly competent, registered professionals.

"The issues relating to ventilation and sealing should have been identified and dealt with. Instead the landlord's tenants were put at unnecessary risk and were misled into believing the gas appliances were safe to use.

"Gas engineers must do a thorough and competent job every time because if they don't, the consequences can be devastating."

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