When it comes to gas fitting, there is nothing more important than safety. Not taking the right precautions can cost people their lives, and installers found guilty of negligence could face manslaughter charges and prison sentences. For an example of just how dangerous gas can be when not properly handled, cast your eyes on the story below.

Two houses were completely destroyed with others damaged yesterday when a gas explosion of currently unknown origin occurred in Clacton, Essex. Thankfully no one was killed in the blast but 10 were injured, with two - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s, badly burnt but now in "stable" condition.

Taking place around 8:30am yesterday morning, a total of 10 properties in the street (Cloes Lane) needed to be evacuated along with a further nine in the road behind. Victims were needed to be pulled from the rubble as houses were flattened, with debris blowing across to hit those nearby.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), National Grid and Essex Police/Fire Services will now carry out a full investigation into what caused such a destructive blast. A spokesperson for the National Grid has already said that it did not appear as though there were any faults in the pipes leading up to the three badly damaged houses, however more thorough tests would be carried out once demolition work has been completed. There had also been no mains replacement work done in that area recently, further adding to the mystery of what could have caused it.

Houses were cornered off as a reception centre was set up for those evacuated from their homes. A Facebook group has also been set up to offer support and donations to those who have lost their homes. Access Training wish everyone involved in the disaster a swift recovery and hope that they will be able to return to normality soon.

This is the kind of damage gas negligence can cause. ANYONE dealing with gas pipes at any level should be fully qualified, having undergone the correct gas training course, complete their ACS assessment and joined the Gas Safety register. This is a legal requirement of ALL gas installers and non-compliance is not tolerated. The life of a gas installer can be a challenging, exciting and prosperous one, also one that requires focus, dedication and conscienciousness. Would you want to be the cause of something like this?

Story via BBC News

There's more to being an electrician than simply completing your electrician training course. earning your qualifications and starting work. Another duty is to promote the safe use of electrical appliances and installations, much like the work of charity the Electrical Safety Council. Their latest campaign is calling for retailers and manufacturers to promote awareness after research found hair straighteners are being sold without additional safety devices or information on preventing burns.

Their investigation found that hair straightener burns among children have doubled in recent years, accounting for nearly one in ten burns. It also found that two thirds of parents are not taking the measures to store the appliances away safely. Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of up to 235°C, staying hot for around 15 minutes even after they have been switched off. Many incidents have been caused when toddlers touch, grab or even tread on the hot straightener plates. However it isn't just children who are at risk, as nearly half of all adults surveyed said they have received a burn from a hair appliance before.

However blame does not solely lie with the parents, as the ESC's mystery shoppers investigation also found that none of the high street and online retailers sampled encouraged customers to buy heat proof pouches alongside them. More alarmingly, while most manufactures provided basic safety information with their straighteners, only a third provided any sort of heat proof mat or pouch. Those that were tested varied greatly in quality - with some even smelting once heat was applied.

The ESC are now starting their own hard-hitting campaign to promote awareness and reduce burns among children and adults alike. The campaign, dubbed "Beauty Burns" has already created a powerful video to illustrate the effects of leaving these potentially dangerous appliances unattended around children. The charity will also be giving away free heat proof pouches in an attempt to encourage people to store their hair straighteners properly. To find out more about the campaign, visit its official page at www.esc.org.uk/beautyburns.

ESC spokesperson Emma Apter commented that it was "worrying" these products are being sold without retailers or manufacturers taking reasonable steps to promote safety. She added: "Hair straighteners can cause burns so serious that surgery is required, and children are at even more risk since their skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults. Retailers and manufacturers must do more to protect their customers."

As we've previously mentioned, Access Training have made a few changes to the way we run the Unvented Cylinders plumbing course recently. With the new City & Guilds syllabus our course follows, students are now required physically commission and maintain a cylinder in order to achieve the qualification. This is important as it will make sure candidates are physically familiar with unvented cylinders rather than just having a theoretical knowledge of how to handle them. Knowing in theory is all well and good, but this is one area inparticularly that can go wrong without the right skills and know-how.

An Unvented Cylinder is a hot water storage system that relies on storage cylinders fed directly from cold water mains and do not incorporate a vent pipe to relieve excess build-up pressure to atmosphere. The pressure for the hot water system is then derived from the mains pressure supply rather than a cold water storage tank. The advantages of using such a system include:

  • Balanced pressure in both hot and cold taps for showers
  • Higher water pressures available for hot taps
  • No storage cistern, eliminating any risk of contamination
  • Can be fitted anywhere in the house, making them suitable for one-storey dwellings
  • Quicker to install with less pipework and no cold storage tanks needed in the loft
  • Can possibly be used with smaller diameter pipework
  • Gives architects and service designers greater flexibility of design

Unvented cylinders are also the only systems currently used with renewable energy supplies such as ground & air heat pumps and underfloor heating, due to their nature of being almost 100% energy efficient. This makes them even more of an important thing as households strive to become greener and save energy (as well as money!).

However despite these numerous advantages installers should still show great caution and care when dealing with unvented cylinders, as failing to properly install them is extremely dangerous. Unvented hot water systems usually operate above atmospheric pressure and unless the right measures are taken to prevent overheating, the results can be quite explosive to say the least. Just have a look at this video of what can happen if adequate checks and protection haven't been made:

VIEW ON YOUTUBE

But don't let this video put you off them. As long as they are installed correctly with all of the proper safety precautions in place unvented cylinders are perfectly safe. All plumbers handling unvented cylinders are required to be qualified in accordance with Part G of the Building Regulations, which can be achieved through the Access Training Academies Unvented Hot Water Cylinders course.

For more information on our Unvented course or our wider range of intensive plumbing courses, please take a look at the plumbing section linked on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can speak to our course advice team to have any questions you may have answered personally - simply call 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on this website.

Fire service data indicates that over 20% of domestic fires are caused by electrical faults, with this figure increasing during the festive season.

As the festive season fast approaches, some of you will be planning your part in the annual “Battle of the Illuminations” with your neighbours. This year you will want more lights, bigger, brighter, and more colourful for a more dynamic display that will make people stare in amazement.

All of your socket outlets will be put to use, many with multi-way extension leads attached. Will you be checking to see if your installation can safely cope with the extra load? No! Don’t be daft its Christmas, it will be ok!

Will you check the lights to make sure that they are safe to use?

  • Are they the correct type of lights for use outdoors?
  • Are the flex, plug and leads un-damaged?
  • Are the plugs fitted correctly and do they contain the right fuse (usually 3Amp)?
  • Are all the lamps the correct rating (voltage, wattage)?

Or shall we just trust to luck?

Then on one December evening your home becomes the focus of everyone in the neighbourhood. People from all over, standing wrapped in coats and scarves watching the awesome display that is before their eyes. A myriad of multicolour flashing lights illuminating jets and sprays of water as the local fire service battle to save your home!

One small spark is all it takes to start a devastating fire, do yourself (and your family) a favour this Christmas – check your lights (or get a qualified electrician to check then) before you put them up and use RCD’s to protect each ‘string’. A small price to pay to have a Merry Christmas with your family– in your own home!

Season’s Greetings,

- Mark Jenkins.

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to take the steps to become a professional electrician, our electrical training courses are the fastest and most effective way to build up the skills you need and gain the necessary qualifications for a prosperous career in the industry. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.

The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.

This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.

"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.

"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."

Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:

Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.

This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.

Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?

I would hardly call this support adequate.

Towards the end of August the Electrical Safety Council revealed that DIY errors are the cause of almost half of all serious electrical shocks in UK homes.

Their survey, which took results from both electricians and consumers, found that many DIYers in fact CAN'T do it themselves and are in fact causing themselves extensive and expensive repairs that need to be done by a professional electrician. And that's if they're lucky - they're also risking both their lives and their family's lives.

These over-confident "Dive-in" DIYers are not only attempting simple jobs either, as one in five respondants without any form of electrical training said that they were confident enough to try their hand at installing new lights. One in ten even said they'd even have a go at new wiring!

So where is this added sense of bravado coming from? Well it's partly coming from relying on the advice of friends and family, who usually aren't electrically qualified themselves (over half surveyed admitted to this) but there's also another source - the internet. Two fifths said they happily turn to Google for advice, using "how-to" video guides from YouTube rather than getting proper training or calling in a professional.

But even with this factors considered, it usually comes down to the stereotypical male bravado. two fifths of men say they feel a responsibility to do electrical and DIY jobs, and almost half of all men are likely to try a job themselves or ask a mate, before seeking help from a professional.

In addition to these facts 2,000 electricians from across the country were asked about their experiences and the results were equally as alarming. 82% said repairing failed DIY efforts costs the homeowner more overall in the long run. Even worse, one third said they had seen or been involved with fixing DIY which had resulted in fires, serious electric shock or serious financial cost to repair.

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council, said: “As budgets continue to be stretched, many people will look for the easy solution but we have found this can often be more costly in the long term and can also pose severe risks. There is a lot of good advice out there on how to go about tasks safely but you must make sure the advice you take is reputable. For the small tasks that you are not sure of and for all the major jobs, my message is DDIY – Don’t Do It Yourself – get a professional in. You can find a registered electrician in your area by searching the Electrical Safety Register.”

DDIY even has some minor celebrity backing in the form of former Changing Rooms DIY expert Andy Kane (aka "Handy Andy"). He said: He said: “I’m well known for my DIY skills and love getting stuck into a good project. But when it comes to electrical DIY I always get professional advice and help. I don’t think it’s unmanly to want peace of mind for yourself and your family. Even when you are carrying out simple DIY jobs like putting up pictures, it’s important to be aware of the potential danger electricity presents in the home.”

So next time you're thinking of installing some new kitchen lights or doing a bit of rewiring, stop and think whether it's really in your ability to do that. Either swallow your pride and get a professional electrician to do the job properly, or consider getting real electrician training so you can do it yourself with REAL confidence. As well as offering training courses to those looking to become a professional electrician, Access Training can also give DIY enthusiasts the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to do extensive home rennovating. To find out more visit our courses page or call us on 0800 345 7492.

 

Summer holidays on the Costas are with us once again. Lots of families are jetting off to spend a week or two in the sunshine. All looking to have fun and this will probably mean consuming large quantities of alcohol.

But we have become so reliant on our electrical and electronic gizmos; we all need an adapter to charge them up whilst we are in foreign lands. Our UK standard plugs will not fit into the sockets that we find in our ‘little paradise’.

Off we go to the local supermarket to purchase an adapter – but they are not cheap, so plan B comes into action. Off we go to the ‘cheap’ shop (you know the ones – everything’s a pound!). But is that cheap product safe? Probably not!

The above item is the subject of a “Product Recall” as it has been identified as being UNSAFE.

“The product poses a risk of electric shock because the user comes into contact with live parts when inserting the plug into the socket. The product does not comply with the relevant national standard BS1363.”

What a wonderful holiday – a couple of days in the sun followed by a couple of days in hospital receiving treatment for electric shock and/or electric burns; if you lucky. If you’re not you might be flying home baggage class in a wooden box!

You can’t put a price on safety; remember it might by your child that gets the shock of their lives!

For more information on this and other recalled products visit the Electrical Safety Council website at:

http://www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/product-recalls/

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492

Full story: Daily Mail - 'Incompetent' plumber causes gas explosion

A 32-year old plumber is currently in course after he caused a gas explosion which resulted in a home being 'blown from its foundations' and leaving the couple inside with serious burns.

While converting the former kitchen of Martyn Moody and his wife Theresa's luxury home in the Lincolnshire Wolds into a dining room, plumber Daniel Hickling cut off and capped the protruding gas pipe, burying it under the floorboards. However during the work he punctured the pipe and failed to carry out a straightforward check to ensure there had been no damage to it.

Later the couple smelt gas and began searching their home. During this time Mr Moody flicked on a cigarette lighter and the flame ignited, causing a massive explosion with such force that the entire building moved an inch. Mr Moody, a retired construction and electrical tradesman spent two weeks in hospital undergoing skin grafts after suffering serious burns to his hands, arms and scalp. His wife suffered burns to her legs and feet nut was released from hospital after two days.

The home, which the couple had built for themselves in 1993, sustained so much damaged that it had to be almost completely rebuilt. It was a year before the couple were able to move back in. They were also left £100,000 out of pocket after being found to be underinsured on their contents insurance and thus had to cover some of the loss themselves.

Lincoln Crown Court were told by prosecutor James Puzey that Hickley was "incompetent to carry out this work and it was carried out incompetently. That led directly to an explosion which almost destroyed the property and caused serious injury to the householders." It was also revealed that he was not a registered Gas Safe engineer and failed to tell the couple this when he agreed to do the work. However he claims that he did not know he would be working on a gas pipe and as such never put himself forward as properly qualified.

Hickley has admitted to breaching the 1998 Gas Safety Regulations and performing work to an inappropriate standard. Recorder Helen Malcolm QC has adjourned the case to a future date when she will give her ruling on the case following these two days of evidence.

-----

Cases like this are a prime example of why having the right qualifications to do the job is vital. Simply having plumbing qualifications is not enough if you are potentially going to work with gas pipes, as not only are you breaking the law and could potentially face prosecution but you are also endangering the lives of your customers. If you train as a gas engineer, becoming Gas Safe Registered isn't just advised, it is essential proof that you are legally competent to work with gas pipes and gas appliances safely. If you are a plumber and would like to learn more about gas engineering, gaining the qualifications required to be eligable for Gas Safe registration, we at Access Training offer comprehensive gas courses to ensure you are fully trained. To find out more click the link or give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

The 1st class cricketing countries are about to start their annual campaigns. Amatuer cricket clubs are preparing for the up and coming season - all hoping for a summer of sunshine and warmth. Families are planning to tidy up the garden, trim the hedges, cut the grass, have barbeques and generally have lots of fun in their gardens. The patio lights are about to be brought back to life - but are they safe?

The lights have probably been exposed to the elements all winter long - drenched by rain, buried in snow and buffeted about by strong winds. The damage they have sufffered may not be immediately evident. Even if you throw the switch and the lights come on they may not be safe! The internal damage may not be apparent until some some poor unfortunate soul touches them - FLASH BANG one of your loved ones is now lying on the floor having received an electric shock (it could even be you!). The lawn mower and hedge cutters have also been stored away in the cold damp shed. Have they suffered any adverse effects from months of inactivity? Do you want to find out the hard way?

It would be a good idea to have the lights (and any other electrical equipment you intend to use in the garden) checkeds out by a competent electrician. Just to make sure it is safe and in good working condition. The small cost involved could be the difference between having a "glorious" summer and a summer never to be forgotten!

- Mark Jenkins