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Illegal gas fitter jailed after leaving lives in danger across South Yorkshire

Date:
17 April 2013

An unregistered gas fitter has been sent to prison after carrying out work at more than 85 homes across South Yorkshire and Worksop that left families and children at risk.

Steven Carter, 49, of Maltby, Rotherham, appeared before Doncaster Magistrates for sentencing today (17 April) on three charges under the Gas Safety regulations for work carried out for two landlords at 85 properties in Rotherham, Doncaster and Worksop between 1 April 2010 and 18 March 2011.

During sentencing, District Judge Jonathan Bennett told Mr Carter:

"This was a reckless breach of the law… It is by good fortune that there has not been any serious injury or ill health as a result of the offences. However, there has been the potential for serious harm to the tenants in the houses where you worked.  

"You were an experienced gas fitter working without registration for 11 months on numerous properties. In two houses the work was dangerous and people were at risk. Considerable steps have had to be taken to remedy your work."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), working with Gas Safe Register investigators, found a series of defects had been left by Mr Carter when carrying out work on gas boilers, fires and cookers. Some were identified as ‘immediately dangerous‘, indicating there was a risk to tenants of injury or even death from exposure to carbon monoxide or an explosion. Many more defects were classed as falling well below current standards.

Mr Carter also claimed to have successfully carried out various safety tests on appliances when in fact it was not actually possible or required to test that particular appliance.

He had failed to renew his registration with Gas Safe, which had expired on 30 March 2010.

The court was told that Mr Carter had been employed by two landlords, one in Doncaster and one based in Stanstead. Part of the work involved safety checks at rental properties to comply with their legal responsibilities as landlords on gas safety. Both were unaware that Mr Carter’s Gas Safe registration was invalid.

HSE cited examples of dangerous or defective work found in properties in Orchard Street, Burton Avenue, Leinster Avenue and Denison Road in Doncaster; William Street in Rotherham, and in a number of homes in Denbigh Avenue,  Worksop.

Steven Carter, of Wood View, Maltby, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, including one charge relating to the illegal work at over 85 properties. He was jailed for a total of 16 weeks.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Mark Welsh said:

"Mr Carter carried out work that he knew full well to be Illegal. He is now in prison, which reflects the seriousness of his offences. I hope this sends a strong message to illegal gas fitters that HSE will take enforcement action in such cases. Mr Carter left appliances in a dangerous state, putting lives at risk, and much of his other work was well below acceptable standards.

"There are legal rules and obligations governing gas work for the very simple reason that defective work can be lethal. Steven Carter should not have carried out any of the work in those 85 properties. It is pure good luck that a more serious incident had not occurred before the level of poor and dangerous workmanship was identified.

"Gas work should only be undertaken by someone qualified and competent to do so. That means they need to be current Gas Safe members with up to date competencies."

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

"Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries an ID card which shows who they are and the kind of work they are competent to carry out. Qualifications   and registration need to be renewed on a regular basis so always check the ID card for expiry dates or check with us by calling 0800 408 5500 or visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk "

For advice on safe working with gas visit www.hse.gov.uk/gas   

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(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation & 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."
  3. Regulation 5(3) 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 otherwise than in accordance with appropriate standards and in such a way as to prevent danger to any person."
  4. Regulation 27(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 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."

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