Serial gas fitting offender is prosecuted
Too many bogus gas fitters are being found and brought to justice. It is necessary to continue to publicise the building safety risks that they cause, both to the general public and to fellow-tradesmen who do abide by the rules and take the appropriate qualifications to achieve Gas Safe registration.
GPE Plumbing and Heating (in Staffordshire) was the trading name that Glenn Edkins used for his illegal activities. He was apprehended as a result of work that he carried out at a house in Barton-under-Needwood. He had previously done gas work there, but the occupants did not realise that he was unregistered.
The installation that caught him out was of a boiler unit, fitted between the 8th and 22nd of November, 2012. It operated at first and all seemed well. Mr Edkins completed the paperwork and the boiler guarantee, doing so by using a made-up Gas Safe registration number.
The occupants smelled gas not long afterwards in the room that housed the boiler. They called Mr Edkins, he found the leak and he fixed it. The residents were, however, sufficiently concerned that they checked with Gas Safe Register and found that Mr Edkins was not on it, despite the previous work he had done.
As a result, a genuine Gas Safe registered engineer called to check the boiler installation and he found several dangerous shortcomings. This led to an HSE investigation, and the serving on Mr Edkins of a Prohibition Notice until such time as he became registered. The dangers included:
- Copper pipe of too small a diameter for the gas supply to the boiler
- Pipe at the wrong spacing
- Old corroded pipe left inside a wall
The undersized pipe might have led to a deadly drop in pressure if the household used the boiler, fire and cooker hob at the same time (which is quite likely). The result would be that the fire and/or hob would cut out. The danger was that as gas started to flow once more, it would escape into the room, risking an explosion.
The incorrect width and corroded pipe could also result in leaks and an explosion.
Burton Magistrates’ Court imposed more than the customary fine: the accused’s sentence included:
- a 6 months’ prison sentence, suspended for 12 months
- a victim compensation payment order of £1,275
- prosecution costs of £1,264
He pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These related to:
- No unapproved gas fitting being allowed
- No-one falsely pretending to be approved
- No installations being made that are dangerous
Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register said afterwards that one in five illegal gas jobs investigated by the Register were “found to be in an immediately dangerous state. You can check whether an individual is registered by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card or by calling Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
It may seem that professional site managers would not allow themselves to be conned by an illegal fitter like this one, but in a busy construction project it is all too easy not to take the time to demand and to properly inspect a subcontractor’s Gas Safe identity card and make sure it is genuine and up to date. Anyone commissioning gas work, whether domestic or commercial, must be on their guard.