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Illegal gas fitter in the dock over ‘dangerous’ work

Date:
13 December 2013

An unregistered gas fitter put a Sheffield family in danger when he illegally installed a boiler and left it in an immediately dangerous condition, a court has heard.

A week after gas experts capped it off and attached a warning notice, Mahmood Khan, of Sheffield, returned. He ignored the fact that the boiler at the family’s rented home in City Road had been capped off, ignored a warning notice, ignored the faults and reconnected the supply.

Sheffield Magistrates Court heard today (13 December) that in doing so, he had displayed a total disregard for the family, a mother and two children, and had knowingly exposed them to serious risk of injury, or even death, over several weeks.

The prosecution of Mr Khan was instigated after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which had been alerted by a National Grid engineer in January 2012.

The court heard the engineer visited the City Road property and found the central heating boiler was ‘immediately dangerous’. He capped it off, left a warning notice and told the tenant it needed to be repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The tenant informed the landlord by phone the same day and the HSE wrote to her a day later repeating the engineer’s advice. However, a week later Mr Khan visited the property and reconnected the boiler but failed to rectify any of the defects.

A few weeks later, HSE again wrote to the landlord advising her to have the boiler checked and asked for the details of the man who had reconnected it but received no reply.

In March, a Gas Safe regional investigator visited the tenant’s home and found the boiler had been reconnected and left in a still-dangerous condition. He again capped it off and left another warning notice. The landlord then did acquire a new boiler and had it fitted by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The court was told the identification of Mr Khan had not been possible until the landlord of the property, herself prosecuted by HSE last year for several breaches of the Gas Safety regulations relating to the same property, finally provided sufficient information.

Mahmood Khan, Pye Bank Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 committed between 15 July 2011 and 15 March 2012. He was handed a suspended six month jail sentence (six months per offence but to run concurrently) and was also ordered to pay £600 in costs. His sentence is suspended for twelve months.

HSE Inspector Denise Fotheringham, speaking after the case, said:

“Not only was this person incompetent, unqualified and working illegally with gas fittings, he was careless of the risk and the lives of a woman and her two children.

“He had originally fitted a second-hand boiler and left it in a dangerous state. He later ignored the capping off of the boiler and also the highly visible warnings saying ‘immediately dangerous’ and proceeded to reconnect it, obviously leaving it still dangerous. It demonstrated a chilling disregard for the safety of others.

“People who work on gas fittings and appliances must be competent to do so and must be registered with Gas Safe. HSE will prosecute unregistered gas fitters who operate illegally as they are the people who put others at risk of serious personal injury, or death.”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, commented:

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by people who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely with gas. One in five of the illegal gas jobs we investigate are found to be immediately dangerous, as was the case in this instance.

“This means that the work could lead to a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. It is therefore vital that people always make sure they only use a registered gas engineer.

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas work they are qualified to do. You can check if your engineer is legal and safe by asking for the card and if you have any concerns, contact us by calling 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 states: ‘No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel unless he is competent to do so.’
  3. Regulation 3(3) of the same Regulations states: ‘No employer shall allow any of his employees to carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or service pipework and no self-employed person shall carry out any such work, unless the employer or self-employed person, as the case may be, is a member of a class of persons approved for the time being by the Health and Safety Executive.’
  4. Regulation 5(3) of the same Regulations states: ‘No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel otherwise than in accordance with appropriate standards and in such a way as to prevent danger to any person.’
  5. Regulation 27(1) of the same Regulations states: ‘No person shall install a gas appliance to any flue unless the flue is suitable and in a proper condition for the safe operation of the appliance.’