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Unsafe gas work leads to fine for kitchen installer

22 May 2013

A Staffordshire kitchen fitter has been has been fined after he carried out illegal gas work and put families’ lives at risk.

Stewart Pitt, 41, of Wombourne, Wolverhampton, was fitting kitchens for a local firm as a self-employed trader. Between August 2011 and the end of September 2011 he put three households at risk by undertaking defective gas work.

The incidents were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Mr Pitt at Stafford Magistrates’ Court today (22 May).

The court was told that between 22 and 25 August 2011, Mr Pitt fitted a kitchen in a home in Wombourne. In doing so, he fitted wooden kitchen units around a boiler which created a risk when the boiler caused the units to heat up to dangerous levels. At the same property, he also cut gas pipes when he wasn’t registered to do so. The installation was classified as ‘at risk’ when later examined by Gas Safe Register.

There is evidence that Mr Pitt was aware that the kitchen affected the safety of the boiler, yet did not take measures to remedy the situation.

At a second property, he disconnected then reconnected a gas hob, when he wasn’t registered to carry out such work. At a third house, he also disconnected then reconnected a gas hob, and left a gas pipe open and uncapped, which could potentially have caused a gas leak.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Mr Pitt on 10 October 2012 ordering him to cease carrying out gas work until he was registered with Gas Safe Register.

Stewart Colin Pitt of Sytch Lane, Wombourne, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,463.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Wayne Owen said:

"Mr Pitt showed a reckless disregard for the welfare and safety of the householders he put at risk by his illegal gas work over a period of two months in 2011.

"Around 10 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. In addition, illegal and sub-standard gas work can lead to fires or explosions.

"There are legal rules and obligations governing gas work for the very simple reason that defective work can be lethal.

"Gas work should only be carried out by someone qualified and competent to do so. They need to be current Gas Safe registered members, which demonstrates they have up-to-date qualifications and competencies."

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Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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.
  2. Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states that Without prejudice to the generality of paragraphs (1) and (2) and subject to paragraph (4) , 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. Regulation 6(2)of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, states that no person carrying out work in relation to a gas fitting shall leave the fitting unattended unless every incomplete gasway has been sealed with the appropriate fitting or the gas fitting is otherwise safe.
  4. Regulation 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, states that no person shall make any alteration to any premises in which a gas fitting or gas storage vessel is fitted if that alteration would adversely affect the safety of the fitting or vessel in such a manner that, if the fitting or the vessel had been installed after the alteration, there would have been a contravention of, or failure to comply with, these Regulations.

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