Family endangered by illegal gas work

Published:  13 March, 2014

A Rotherham man has been prosecuted after carrying out illegal gas work and putting a family at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning or an explosion.

Thomas Atkinson from Wickersley pretended to be officially registered with Gas Safe Register, showing the homeowner a false ID card before installing a gas fire, and then providing an invalid gas safety certificate.

Rotherham Magistrates heard today (13 March) that the resident developed suspicions about the certificate and contacted Gas Safe Register, which confirmed it was false and sent one of its regional team to investigate.

The Gas Safe regional investigations officer found seven defects with the gas fire installation work, including two that were classed as ‘immediately dangerous’. The case was passed to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Mr Atkinson for five offences under the Gas Safety regulations.

The court was told that Mr Atkinson had installed a new gas fire on 12 May 2013 for the family in Herringthorpe but had to be chased for a gas safety certificate. When it did arrive, it was in the name of Mr Atkinson’s former employer. HSE found Mr Atkinson had been registered under the firm’s name with Gas Safe, but had been removed in January 2012. He was not registered as a qualified gas engineer in his own name at the time of the fire installation – and never had been.

In addition, his work left a gas leak with the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning, a fire or an explosion.

Mr Atkinson was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £352 in costs after admitting breaching regulations 3(3), 3(7), 5(3), 7(3) and 26(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

HSE inspector Mark Welsh, who investigated, said after the hearing: “The incident was preventable because Mr Atkinson should not have carried out the work in the first place. From his previous experience he would have been perfectly aware that registration with Gas Safe is a pre-requisite to being able to undertake gas work legally, yet he went ahead with the job and then deliberately falsified a gas safety certificate.

“Illegal gas work is still a common occurrence and has the very real potential to lead to ill-health, injury or even fatality. Anyone wanting gas work done should make sure they employ a registered Gas Safe engineer.”

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