A self-employed builder from Ipswich’s Kesgrave region was handed a suspended prison sentence after illegally removing a gas boiler.
In a hearing yesterday (September 30th), Ipswich Crown Court heard that on October 11th 2012, 49-year-old Keith Vickerstaff, of Wainwright Way, had left a gas supply pipe uncapped and open after taking the boiler out.
As he was not on the Gas Safe Register, he could not have legally removed the boiler or performed any other gas work. Furthermore, he subsequently abandoned the job, despite having taken a significant amount of money as a deposit for a full central heating installation.
When a Gas Safe investigator examined the installation, they classed it as ‘immediately dangerous’.
Mr Vickerstaff was told to complete 180 hours of community work and given a six-month prison sentence, which was suspended for 18 months, after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Section 3(2) and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 section 3(1).
Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act compels self-employed people to work in such a way as to prevent health and safety risks to themselves and other people as far as is “reasonably practicable”, while Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations forbids people from working on gas storage vessels or gas fittings if they are not competent to do so.
‘Sheer luck’ that nobody was injured
Following the hearing, Anthony Brookes, an inspector for the HSE, described the fact that nobody was injured by Mr Vickerstaff’s work as being down to “sheer luck”.
Describing the work as “shoddy and illegal”, Mr Brookes said it put householders and neighbours at risk of serious injury and death. The gas supply was “extremely dangerous” as a result of the work and could have led to fires or explosions at any time, he added.
Mr Vickerstaff left the household occupants out-of-pocket by thousands of pounds by taking on work he could not do, Mr Brookes remarked.
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