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Illegal gas worker jailed after Dunstable home was left at risk for months

Date:
9 August 2013

A builder has been jailed for 12 months for illegally carrying out sub-standard gas work at a lone pensioner’s home in Bedfordshire.

Luton Crown Court heard today (9 August 2013) that between 21 January and 30 June 2010, Patrick Regan carried out internal building work, including gas work and other building works affecting gas appliances, at a 65 year-old woman’s house on Luton Road, Dunstable despite not being registered with Gas Safe.

Mr Regan, of Loud Water, High Wycombe, was sentenced today after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious safety failings.

During the building work he removed a chimney breast in the lounge but left the still connected and unstable gas fire flue liner lying across the floor and routed into a floor void.

The gas meter had also been disturbed when the wall it was fixed to was removed, which caused a gas leak; and gas fitting work in the kitchen included the installation of a five-metre length of gas supply pipework running directly across a doorway with only one clip supporting it.

The house was left with appliances in an ‘immediately dangerous’ condition, but they weren’t disconnected until 5 October (2010) when a Gas Safe engineer visited the property. This was more than three months after Mr Regan had finished.

The householder, who does not wish to be named, was left with an estimated repair bill for heating and plumbing in the region of £5,000.

Patrick Regan, of Abbey Barn Lane, Loudwater, High Wycombe, sentenced to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of single breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Manley said:

"Patrick Regan’s handiwork left a lot to be desired. He operated illegally and left a vulnerable pensioner at risk.

"This case highlights the need for householders to exercise caution when they select people to work in their home. They should always check credentials and obtain references for similar works done, and never feel awkward about asking questions.

"You should only use a Gas Safe registered engineer for gas fitting works.

"Even small scale works such as extensions, car ports and conservatories must be planned properly to identify where work may affect gas fittings, so that appropriate controls can be incorporated."

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

"Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand. You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk"

Further information about gas safety can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/gas

Notes to editors

  1. 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(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 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 for the purposes of this paragraph"
  3. Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974, states: "It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."
  4. 4. General gas safety advice – HSE runs a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering information on gas safety, freephone 0800 300 363. To find/check a registered engineer – http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/ or call 0800 408 5500.

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