How Safe Is Your House? is a new programme from the BBC that looks at all the different accidents that can befall homeowners. Not only does it feature experts uncovering home dangers that you might not know about, it also goes undercover to expose rogue tradespeople and the shoddy work they perform while pretending to be fully qualified. The second episode in the series aired last night on BBC 1, and included was something very important to us here at Access Training - proper gas engineer training and the Gas Safe Register.

It is estimated that there are currently around 7500 unqualified gas engineers working illegally in the UK, installing up a quarter of a million (250,000) appliances in our homes. All engineers should be part of the Gas Safe Register to work legally on any sort of gas appliance, and without that not only are they working illegally but you have no way of knowing how qualified these engineers really are. One simple registration may not be enough either - engineers must have separate qualifications for EACH gas appliance they work on. So if an engineer is Gas Safe Registered to work on boilers, that doesn't necessarily mean he has the qualifications to work on fires. The information as to exactly what your hired engineer is qualified in can be found on the back of their Gas Safe ID card, which you can ask to see at any time.

Operating as a gas engineer without first joining the register can not only result in fines/imprisonment, but it also endangers the lives of the homeowners who are placing their trust in you. A quick phone call is all it can take for a doubtful homeowner to double check whether their engineer is registered, and Gas Safe also provide these records online. With it so easy to be caught out, is it really worth endangering the lives of others and risking facing the law?

Andrew Barnes seemed to think so, as he was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive for not being Gas Safe Registered, fined and given a conditional discharge. Two months later, he was at it again without getting registered. How Safe is Your House went undercover to expose him, eventually confronting him when he continued to claim he was legally registered to work on gas appliances. It was only after this confrontation that he finally registered, but who knows what could have happened in the time he was practicing illegally.

The whole episode is well worth the watch, and can be found on BBC iPlayer for the next 6 days.

If you're training to become a gas engineer or considering a change of career to become a gas engineer, it is vital that you earn the correct qualifications and then become Gas Safe Registered. Here at Access Training we'll be able to help you with this, as we offer intensive gas training courses complete with a work placemebt and ACS assessment. You'll learn the basics from experienced gas engineers before moving on to completing a top quality portfolio working alongside an established engineer. Then you'll return to our centre ready to tackle the ACS assessments, fully qualifying you for Gas Safe Registration.

Having the right qualifications isn't just a matter of being the best you can, it's a legal obligation. Don't risk the lives of your customers, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and get the correct training.

Every year the Gas Safe Register holds a 'Gas Safety Week' to promote proper safety when it comes to gas installations and appliances and what signs to look for if you suspect a gas leak. Last year 2700 different industries (ourselves included!) pledged their support and got involved distributing leaflets, holding promotions or simply spreading the word about gas safety in any way that they could. However this year (taking place the 15th-21st September), they're calling on your to share your stories about being a Gas Safe Hero.

Russell Kramer, chief executive of the Gas Safe Register, explained that for 2014 the register's aim is to highlight the work registered engineers have done and how they've gone "above and beyond". This could be anything from simply holding neighbourhood events to raise awareness to fixing dodgy gas work or even evacuating a home in the event of a leak.

Engineers are able to share their stories by visiting GasSafeRegister.co.uk/hero, which will then go on to appear on the Gas Safety week website as well as potentially be shared with the media. In addition to this, the Register is also looking for Heroes to talk to the media about their experiences and help spread the word of Gas Safety. Those interested in nominating themselves as a spokesperson can also do so at the aforementioned link.

Mr Kramer concludes with these words;

"Gas Safety Week is about bringing gas safety to the forefront of people's minds. So this year, I'm urging the nation's engineers to join in – tell us your story, nominate yourself to be a spokesperson or pledge your support. It's only through the whole industry uniting that we can hope to reach the 23 million UK gas consumers - encouraging them to always use registered engineers, to get appliances checked regularly and to sign up to the free annual gas safety check reminder service at www.staygassafe.co.uk"

Are you on your way to becoming a Gas Safe Hero? Any budding engineer knows that in order to become a professional gas engineer, one must first pass their ACS assessments and sign on to the register - a legal requirement of ANYONE working on gas installations and appliances. But before any of this can happen, you first need a high quality gas training course and a proper work placement to put together a portfolio of your work. And where can you get all of these things? Here at Access Training of course!

At our state-of-the-art training centre, you'll learn all the theory and practical skills you need from our experienced team of tutors before moving out on a guaranteed work placement. Following completion of your portfolio you'll be able to come back and sit your ACS assessment, bringing you to the level of a fully qualified gas engineer. To find out more about the course give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

So you've done your gas training course, passed your ACS assessments, joined the Gas Safe Register and are now starting life as a self-employed gas engineer. Are you prepared for the day-to-day tasks of managing your own business that weren't covered in the course? Well, the Register is here to help make life a little easier for you. To mark its fifth year as the UK's official gas registration body, it has launched a brand new app for iPhone and Android devices.

Titled the "Gas Engineer Workspace", this app is designed to help self-employed engineers and small businesses manage their everyday workload. The tasks it can perform include;

  • Managing day-to-day jobs with an easy to use calendar that shows when and where jobs are.
  • Logging customer contact details, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Setting reminds for scheduled work to help manage time.
  • The ability to contact customers directly from the app, along with being able to send them a reminder for any upcoming jobs.

While on the surface this might not sound like a lot, it certainly straightens out the mangerial side of running your own business and seems to be something many gas engineers have been after for a while. The Gas Safe Register's chief executive Russel Kramer has also stated that more functions are planned to be added to the app over the next few months, including a range of calculation tools for pipe sizing and venting calculation.

The app is now available for free on both the App store and Google Play, and can be found by searching "gas engineer workspace". Once the app is downloaded, users will be invited to login with their Gas Safe Register user ID/license card and password. 

Dangerous gas appliances

The Gas Safe Register, the UK's gas safety authority which all gas installers are legally required to join upon completion of their ACS assesments, is urging members of the public to get the safety of their gas appliances checked after their latest research revealed that 9 out of 10 Britons could not identify gas appliances that were deadly or potentially life-threatening.

1,200 consumers were shown 10 images of gas appliances, eight of which were dangerous and only two of which were completely safe to use. The results were particularly startling, with nearly everyone (95% to be precise) thinking at least one of the deadly appliances were safe. 6% of them even thought that all eight of them were safe! Only one person of the entire 1,200 was able to correctly identify all 10 - and that is definitely cause for concern.

Six of these eight dangerous gas appliances could have resulted in a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning, but were thankfully from homes checked before anyone got hurt. The other two appliances shown, however, were ones that had only been discovered after the damage had been done - one tragically killing the homeowner and the other hospitalising a family. In the case of the appliance that resulted in a fatality, half of respondents thought it looked safe when shown the photograph.

Stakeholder manager for Gas Safe Sarah Hill had this to say about the findings:

"Our research backs up what we, as the UK gas authority, already know - people cannot spot a deadly gas appliance as often there are no obvious signs. That’s why it’s vital to get your gas appliances safety checked regularly by a registered engineer, who has the skills and the know-how to spot the dangers. Sadly, we also know that the consequences if you don’t can be serious, especially when CO is involved as you can’t see it, taste it or smell it."

Would you be able to spot an unsafe gas appliance? If you think you could just look at the pictures and spot it, have you considered a career as a gas installer? Gas can be an extremely useful source of energy when installed properly but if anything goes wrong the results can prove fatal. Installers are required to have passed their ACS assessments and join the Gas Safe Register before they are legally allowed to start work, and here at Access Training we can provide you with all the training needed to work safely with gas appliances.

To find out more about our professional gas courses, please contact us on 0800 345 7492.

The Gas Safe Register isn't just a comprehensive register of the UK's qualified gas engineers (something that is a legal requirement - not just something we recommend to our gas course trainees!), it also plays a huge part in promoting awareness gas safety and making sure people know how to detect a gas leak. And their latest efforts have paid off, as the Register is awarded a DBA Design Effectiveness Award for its 'Silent Killer' campaign.

The campaign was set in motion after one in five homes in the North West were found to have unsafe gas work, and used a mix of online, local press, outdoor advertising, events, and even a horror-movie styled advertisement. All of these steered viewers towards the 'Silent Killer' campaign website, where they could then book a gas safety check and sign up for an annual reminder. The campaign was a roaring success, with the Gas Safe Register seeing a 300% increase (equivalent tomore than 53,000 homes) in higher risk households signing up for annual checks.

The Design Effectiveness Awards 2014 gave 'Silent Killer' the gold award in the 'Design for Society' category, featuring the full case study on its effectiveness outlined by Gas Safe on their website. Gas Safe Register marketing and communications director Nick Terry commented that: "“The Silent Killer pilot was the first time Gas Safe Register had aimed to persuade people to change their behaviour, rather than simply raise awareness of the dangers of gas work. It was therefore vital that the design was engaging and would encourage people to act; by getting their gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer."

He continued to say that the campaign's success has helped shape future ones to come as more and more people sign up to protect themselves from unsafe gas work nationwide. However in a perfect world they shouldn't need protection - all gas installers would be professional and above board, fully qualified members of the Gas Safe Register. Unfortunately there are those out there who aren't so honest, and while they are always eventually caught they put lives at risk with dangerous workmanship. At Access Training Acadmies we make sure all candidates on our intensive gas training courses are given expert levels of tutelage, teaching them the very basics of gas engineering all the way up to assisting them with their gas portfolios and ACS assessments. For more information, call 0800 345 7492 to speak to one of our advisers. 

But for now, congratulations to the Gas Safe Register and long may its good work continue!

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

Via InstallerOnline

Despite the advances in electric fires and other forms of household heating, gas fires are still proving to be the number one choice for homes. So if you're looking to go out and get your gas certificate to become a qualified engineer, you'll be pleased to know that business is just as good as ever.

As well as the authenticity and flame effect which prove highly popular among the public, gas is still the cheapest fuel to run. On average, 1kW of gas supplied by British Gas costs just 4.662p (incl VAT) compared to nearly 14.259p (incl VAT) for 1kW of electricity - a number that seems to only be going up these days. Not only that, running a gas fire is actually more beneficial to the environment too, as it delivers half the CO2 emissions of an electric fire.

Gas fires are also far more efficient than they were back in the 80s, with developments in technology making them capable of delivering heat efficiencies of over 80% and heat outputs of 4.0kW - more than enough to heat your living room! But most of all a gas fire is reliable - if by chance your boiler were to break down over the winter (say, due to condensation freeze), you'll still be able to keep safe and warm until everything is back up and running.

Gas heating is just as vital now as it was 20 years ago, and Britain will continue to need engineers who have received the proper gas training. At Access Training you'll be able to learn all about the gas trade on one of our intensive training courses, eventually going on to complete a guaranteed work placement and subsequent ACS assessments. After that you'll be able to join the Gas Safe register and legally work on all forms of gas installation and appliance in the UK. Reckless gas maintenance can cost people their lives, so we're sure to make sure ALL of our students are training to the required professional standard.

To find out more give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

December may not seem like the most suitable time to be studying on a trades training course to become a professional tradesman, but the truth is these winter months are actually when plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, bricklayers and roofers are needed more than ever. With the end of the year just around the corner and the cold weather homing in on Britain, government-endorsed standards group Trustmark is warning owners to ensure that their homes are fully prepared before the harsh season hits.

Trustmark have already noted a rise in tradesperson viewings on their online database during October, which saw an a 36% increase in comparison to 2012. Across the trades roofers (32%), plumbers/heating engineers (35%) and electricians (20%) were the ones to see the biggest rise, and with heavy snow forecast until May 2014, these professionals are going to be needed more than ever.

Below is a list of quick spot checks Trustmark recommend doing to help reduce the risk of the winter weather causing damage to your home:

  • Most importantly, you should get your boiler and central heating checked/serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. By making sure your boiler is in peak condition, it will burn far more efficiently - meaning it'll use less fuel AND be warmer. Checking your boiler/central heating also means that if there is any serious problems, you'll be avoiding any tragedy that could happen.
  • Make sure your insulation is in good quality. Not just your loft, but also look into lag pipes, water tanks and draught excluders.
  • Clean out gutters and outlets of any leaves and debris, followed by checking for any leaks or damage.
  • Look out for any damaged or loose tiles on your roof (from ground level to ensure your safety). Leep an eye out for any leaks or condensation appearing on the ceiling.
  • Make sure no exterior walls have any cracked, loose or missing pointing. If they do, be sure to get it fixed before water can get into it.

They also highly recommend keeping a useful list of phonenumbers of tradepeople in your area just incase of an emergency - plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, roofers, carpenters...whoever you might need if a problem should arise.

So if you're a tradesperson yourself, be prepared for your work to be more crucial to homeowners than ever - you never know when you're going to be needed. Alternatively, if you're looking to start a new career as a fully-qualified tradesperson now could be the perfect time to start. An intensive course from Access Training Academies can have you up and qualified in a matter of weeks - just in time to help those in need. To find out more about our range of courses, including plumbing, gas, electric and various construction trades, please give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.

It wouldn't be right to support Gas Safety Week without taking some time to talk about who set up the campaign - The Gas Safe Register. If you've been reading our posts you'll already know that joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of all gas engineers if they want to work on gas installations and appliances in the UK, but what else do you know about them?

The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey and was appointed by the relevant Health and Safety Authority for each area. It replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain and Isle of Man on the 1st April 2009 and Northern Ireland and Guernsey on the same date the following year.

The main focus of the Register is improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards, however its utmost priority is keeping you and your family safe. Their team make sure all gas engineers on the Register (totalling over 125,000) are fully qualified to work with gas. It works to protect the public from unsafe gas work through a number of different means, including;

  • A dedicated national investigations team tracking down individuals working illegally
  • Regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers
  • Educating consumers and raising awareness of gas safety
  • Investigating reports of unsafe gas work 

The Gas Safe Register highly advise that you always find an engineer that is part of the register. You can check this by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card, which will contain a unique license number. The front of the card will also display these important details:

  • The engineer's photo
  • The start and expiry dates
  • A security hologram
  • That engineer is from the business you employed

Meanwhile the back of the card will also have printed on it whether that engineer is qualified to do the work you've hired him for and whether this qualifications are up to date. Should that fail, you can also check online or phone the Register on 0800 408 5500. This number is also the one to call if you suspect a fraudulent gas engineer.

So there you have it, a little bit more about the Gas Safe Register and what it does. If you need gas work done always be sure to check your engineer is registered, and if you're a register remember that being part of it is a legal requirement!

 

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

 

An important part of Gas Safety Week is making sure people know exactly what to do in the event of a gas leak.

Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. This highly poisonous gas can't be seen, smelled or tasted, but can kill quickly and without warning. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness and then eventually collapsing and even loss of consciousness. As an invisible gas, carbon monoxide can be extremely difficult to detect. However there are ways that you can determine whether an appliance (such as fires, heating boilers, water heaters or cookers) are dangerous. These include:

  • The pilot light continually blowing out
  • An orange or yellow flame rather than a blue one
  • A discoloured scorched area on an appliance
  • A musty smell or signs of soot
  • More condensation than normal on windows

If you see any of these things, whatever you do DO NOT try to attempt any sort of repair work yourself - you could only end up making it worse. Instead what you should do is call the free emergency gas number on 0800 111 999 and follow their instructions. As soon as you suspect a leak, don't start any flames or operate electrical switches. Make sure to put out any fires, open doors and windows to air out the rooms, keep people away from the area and turn the gas off at the control valve. 

Once you've made the call, a trained operator will log a number of details onto a computer. The kind of questions they'll ask you are:

 

  • Your name and phone number
  • The address and postcode of the suspected gas emergency 
  • How many people are at the property 
  • Where the smell is most noticeable 
  • How long the smell has been noticeable
  • Are any neighbours affected 
  • Any special circumstances or access information
Following that you'll be asked a number of questions to determine the severity of the situation. This information will be recorded and sent off to an engineer to take action if its required.

 

 

One of the ways the Gas Safe Register has decided to mark Gas Safety Week by launching the very first nationwide interactive gas map, which can be viewed at www.staygassafe.co.uk.

This map reveals just how many unsafe gas appliances have been found across the UK, how many gas-related accidents or emergencies have occurred and even how many unregistered gas fitters have been caught preying upon the public. It's the first time this level of information has been recorded and compared across postcodes, and the results aren't looking good for the capital of Wales.

Cardiff ranked second only to Birmingham as the area with the highest number of unsafe homes, at a total of 31.1%. The full top 10 (if you can call it "top" that is) of unsafe places in the UK can be viewed below:

1. Birmingham (34.2%)

2. Cardiff (31.1%)

3. Edinburgh (30.9%)

4. Norwich and Ipswich (27.9%)

5. Coventry (27.8%)

6. Manchester (27.5%)

7. Bedford (27.3%)

8. Glasgow (25.2%)

9. Milton Keynes (24.2%)

10. Bradford (23.3%)

While there may not be a whole lot in it between the places, these numbers are still significantly higher than they should be. So where did the research find is the safest places? Brighton took the prize with just 5% (1 in 20) homes found to be dangerous, followed closely by Liverpool (6%), Southampton (6%), Northampton (7%) and Hull (8%). 

The data inspected just under 100,000 homes in Great Britain in the last three years, and found that one in six homes, the equivalent of 4.28 million households, had an unsafe gas appliance. Appliances in one in 25 homes were immediately dangerous and if left unchecked were at risk of causing a gas fire, explosion, leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.

One in three gas customers in Great Britain (around 7.69 million households) also admitted that they’ve never had their gas appliances checked or maintained, despite eight in 10 people (82%) recognising that it needs to be done to protect them from gas dangers. Gas Safe Register’s inspections further found that gas fires are the most dangerous gas appliances in homes. One in three gas fires checked by the Register were unsafe, compared to one in 11 boilers and one in 13 cookers. Just like boilers, gas fires and gas cookers need to be checked and maintained regularly to remain safe.

The public is also being caught out by cowboy unregistered gas fitters, pretending to be legal engineers. One in 10 people admit they took it on trust that their gas engineer is legally registered and never checked if they were. Nearly 3,000 illegal gas jobs have been investigated by Gas Safe Register since 2010, of which nearly two in three (61%) left victims’ homes unsafe and one in five were so dangerous that the Register had to turn off the gas appliance immediately.

Russell Kramer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: "Gas safety is a life or death matter and something that shouldn’t be ignored. People are aware of the potential risks of unsafe gas work and they know what they should be doing to keep themselves safe, but as our research has found, not everyone is acting on that information. This is why we have launched the gas map. It is the first time that data on unsafe gas appliances and illegal gas work has been compared across postcodes in Great Britain. We want people to realise that gas safety is something that they should take seriously and by bringing it to their doorstep it makes it harder to ignore.

"We hope to see millions of people using the gas map during and beyond Gas Safety Week to get a better understanding of how they can protect themselves. Some areas are more at risk, but even in safer areas there is no room for complacency. You only need to enter your postcode to find out localised information about your area. You can also sign up for a free reminder service to get your appliances checked, so that you don’t forget to do this vital and life saving check every year, and search for registered engineers. Our messages this Gas Safety Week are simple – get your appliances checked every year, sign up for our reminder service and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer. It could save yours and your family’s lives."

If you're a Cardiff gas engineer, its up  to you to help lower this figure and get our city off of the table. Meanwhile, if you're a trainee gas engineer or looking to enter the gas trade, it is essential that you not only get the right qualifications, but get Gas Safe registered so that you are legally permitted to work on gas appliances and installations across the UK. An Access Training gas course will provide you with everything you need - expert tutelage, professional qualifications and the best foundation work possible for you to go on and become Gas Safe. To find out more take a look at our courses page or contact one of our team on 0800 345 7492.

 

Gas Safety Week: Keeping our nation safe

Access Training are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week taking place 16th - 22nd September 2013.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on your gas boiler, gas cooker and gas fire.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

If you’re a Gas Safe registered engineer why not get involved and help remind customers they should:

  • Check their gas appliances every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants – make sure the landlord arranges this.
  • Check their engineer is Gas Safe registered. They can find and check an engineer at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check their engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work they need doing. They can find this information on the back of the card.  
  • Check for warning signs their appliances aren’t working correctly e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.  
  • Check they know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.  
  • Check they have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert them if there is carbon monoxide in their home.

Be part of this national campaign with events, advertising and PR taking place across the country to help keep the nation Gas Safe. To get involved and order materials to raise awareness of gas safety visit www.gassafetyweek.co.uk. Alternatively email marketing@gassaferegister.co.uk.