In 2009, “20 people died from CO poisoning, fire, explosion and other exposure related to gas and 289 were hospitalised.” (Source: HSE Gas Safety Statistics)
During 2012, one in 10 of the illegal gas installations investigated were found to be immediately dangerous and appliances had to be disabled straight away to make them safe. Over a third of these were leaking gas, and almost half had faults that could lead to lethal carbon monoxide exposure. (Source: Research commissioned by Gas Safe Register)
According to “Gas-Safe” around 30 people every year die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained, or ventilated. “Gas-Safe” registered engineers are qualified and trained which means that your personal safety should not be at risk.
Registration with the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out gas work in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey. To register, individuals must hold a recognised qualification for the areas of gas work that they intend to carry out.
Every Gas Safe registered engineer has a photo ID card with a unique licence number on the front, and details of work they’re qualified to do on the reverse. Always ask to see the engineers ID card. Don’t allow any gas fitter to work on gas appliances within your home without checking their ID, you can also check their details on the gas safe website at gassaferegister.co.uk.
Always ensure that the card is valid, Gas Safe registered engineers are issued with a new card every 12 months so ensure that the ID card you are presented with is current.
Please also note that different types of gas work require different qualifications. Just because someone is qualified and registered to work on one gas appliance, for example gas fires, does not mean that they are automatically qualified to install a gas boiler. The work that engineers can legally do is listed on the back of their Gas Safe card – it’s very important to check this every time you have work done.
Another important factor to consider is that there are instances where “cowboy” businesses employ one or two registered engineers for reasons of legitimacy but also instruct their none qualified employees to undertake gas installations and to make gas connections (work which they are not qualified or legally entitled to undertake). It is especially important that you check that the person who is actually carrying out gas work in your property is qualified and registered and is able to produce a valid photo ID card or is supervised by a qualified and registered engineer whose credentials you have checked.
Sadly, when it comes to gas safety, people in the UK are far too trusting of the people they employ to install or service their boilers, gas fires, gas stoves or water heaters.
If you’re concerned that you have had illegal gas work done, you can nominate your gas appliance to Gas Safe for inspection. And if you know of an illegal gas worker then you can also report them to directly to the Gas Safe Register through the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk or by phone 0800 408 5500.
Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. Only qualified and registered engineers should attempt it.