A home improvement company’s partners have been fined after a woman and her foster children were potentially exposed to fatal carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of inappropriate building work.
Gas Safety breach
Philip Thomas and Janusz Wojcik, partners of Lochaber Street, Cardiff-based firm P Thomas and J Building Home improvement Specialists, each admitted breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and received a fine of £1,500 in the hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on September 25th.
The court was told that the victim of their health and safety breaches lived at home with four teenagers. She had received a grant from the council to modify her household and convert her loft to accommodate her foster children, but was concerned about the quality of the work and discovered problems with the plumbing system.
The Gas Safe Register sent one of its investigative officers to the property and discovered that the gas fire’s flue had been removed from below the attic. The fire was still connected to the gas supply and had been used over the winter, allowing carbon monoxide gas to fill the loft space. Accordingly, the appliance was categorised as ‘immediately dangerous’.
‘Failed in their duty’
Later investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the building partnership had removed the flue and chimney without consulting a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
Dean Baker, an inspector for the HSE, said that Wojcik and Thomas “failed in their duty” to make sure that the gas appliance was safe before the flue and chimney were removed.
Describing their work as “shoddy and careless”, he pointed out that the errors could have taken the lives of a family with young children. He urged people to seek the assistance of Gas Safe-engineers before working on or near flues, saying it is “never acceptable” for people to assume gas appliances will not be used when flues are removed.
The unnamed householder said the contractors the council chose for her loft conversion were “not competent”, putting her and her foster children in danger.
She explained that her son had complained of sickness and headaches, but she had blamed computer games for these ailments. When the Gas Safe Register’s professional discovered that the flue had been taken out, she realised “just how lucky” she and her family was, she added.
247 Home Rescue – keeping gas appliances safe
Our boiler cover is the ideal way for people to stay gas safe. Not only do we respond to boiler breakdowns within 24 hours, but we also arrange annual gas safety checks, gas appliance services and carbon monoxide tests.
Don’t attempt to touch any part of your boiler or central heating system if you’re unsure. Did you know? It’s illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they think it’s unsafe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry as you could make things worse.
All of our engineers are Gas Safe registered and are carefully vetted to ensure they deliver the service we know you expect.
Instead, call us on 0345 3192 247 and we can help.