A plumbing and heating company and two of its self-employed contractors have been prosecuted in a Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court hearing after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated a number of faults in gas appliances the firm had installed.
DSI Plumbing and Heating, of Fawley’s The Square, admitted to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was told to pay £10,000 in fines and £1,000 in costs. Andrew Church, of Gosport’s Ensign Drive, and Robert Percival, of Poole’s Legion Road, both admitted a single breach of this legislation, with Church admitting to making false entries in commissioning documentation and Percival pleading guilty to inadequate and ineffective commissioning of gas appliances. Church and Percival were each told to pay costs of £250 and handed a two-year conditional discharge.
The court was told that a new housing development in Reading’s Caversham Road contained a total of 60 flats, and a development in Poole’s Harbour Reach contained 79 townhouses and 261 flats. These dwellings received central heating and hot water through gas boilers, which had flues in building voids. The flues vented carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts to the open air.
When flues are positioned in this way, inspection hatches must be installed, but this did not initially occur at Harbour Reach. Furthermore, the HSE found that gas supply pipes and flues had not been fitted correctly, that the commissioning and checking of the work was substandard, and that gas leaks were present. More than 90% of the properties had some form of gas installation defect. The gas supply to all the residences was therefore disconnected until repairs were completed. At Caversham Road, the HSE discovered that another 40 properties had defective gas installations.
Harvey Wild, HSE Head of Operations, revealed after the hearing that the defective gas work only came to light after people began to complain of illness. Fortunately, nobody developed any long-term health complaints, but Mr Wild pointed out that the consequences of these faults could have proven fatal.
He said that gas installers must ensure that pipes and flues can be checked and that the safety of all gas appliance installations is checked as part of the commissioning process. This will ensure that “lives are not put at risk”, he added.
To keep your home safe, take out gas appliance cover with 247 Home Rescue and receive annual safety checks and services.