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.

The summer months are behind us and despite a few more days of good weather, homeowners will soon be getting ready to turn their boilers and central heating on for the first time since the Spring. Houses are going to need heating, and when these boilers need maintenance and replacement who's going to be there to pick up the slack? Your local plumber of course!

With plumbers and gas engineers expected to see a rise in business over the next few months, if you've been considering a change in career to one of these trades now is the perfect time to make it happen. Earn your plumbing and gas qualifications on one of Access Training's range of professional trade courses, following which you'll be able to apply to join the Gas Safe Register - a legal requirement of anyone working on gas appliances in the UK. You'll then find yourself in a world of work with plenty of variety - you'll be meeting new people every day and no two jobs will be quite the same. Not only that, but the rewards are great too - and these only get better if you take the extra steps to become a self-employed tradesman.

Winter might be coming, but life as a plumber/gas engineer certainly won't leave you out in the cold. To find out more have a look at the course section of our website or chat with one of our sales team on 0800 345 7492.

Full story: Trust in tradesmen still a consumer concern

A recent study from Bradstone Assured has shown that concerns about rogue tradesmen still rank as one of the highest consumer concerns when it comes to the construction industry. The poll, taken by 2000 homeowners, found that nearly three quarters of the sample "felt anxious" when dealing with tradesmen they hadn't met before and a total of 60% thought it was difficult to find an honest tradesman.

Among the main consumer concerns were whether the job would be finished in time, being charged more than the original quote and fearing that the builder would go out of business before the work was completed. HOWEVER it also emerged that many customers were not taking the available steps to ensure that they were hiring a genuine tradesman and not one of the "cowboy builders" you so often hear about in the news. Less than a third of people check for professional credentials, only one in four take up references and 70% don’t even know the surname of the person they have employed.

Bradstone Assured spokesman Mike Leeming said: “Our research suggests that falling foul of rogue traders is still a real concern for homeowners. One in 10 even admitted to attempting work they weren’t capable of rather than risk bringing someone in."

So what measures can be taken to ensure a trustworthy tradesman? Professional branding, a good website and offering references up-front were among the things found in the poll to most likely reassure customers. It is important to know some of the professional branding to look for, as it can come from many different places and is all different depending on the tradesman you need. Electricians who have their Part P qualification will be able to join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA - they will usually have these stickers on their van/website and it shouldn't be too hard to look up with these bodies if you were really unsure. Plumbers also have their own Competent Person Schemes, and gas engineers are required to become Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas appliances legally. If you're unsure your engineer is registered - be sure to find out. Only last week a plumber narrowly escaped a jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work - resulting in an explosion at a home and the owners suffering serious burns.

There is also TrustMark, a sign of quality working across the RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector which recruits reputable and worthy tradesmen. The TrustMark scheme offers a number of checks to give you full peace of mind, and is fully supported by the Government, building industry and various consumer protection groups.

Of course, tradesmen are also required to do their part - from getting the right, reputable qualifications to doing the work to a professional standard. For tradesmen-in-training, all of the courses Access Training offer the qualifications you need to reach the "industry standard" employers look for. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a part of the schemes mentioned earlier, securing you a long and prosperous career in the industry. If you would like to find out more give us a call today.

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.

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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.

Combining trades, such as taking both a plumbing and gas engineering course, has always been an ideal way of making sure you are never short work as a qualified professional. It's something we've always encouraged at Access Training, but it's also something that seems to be becoming more and more essential in today's working environment.

The AA training their patrol officers in plumbing emergencies, for example, is a sign of the recession and the need for employers to diversify their workers. With British Gas also now venturing into other areas such as blocked drains, electrics and white goods repairs, it is obvious that in today's climate you cannot rely on a single trade only for a living. I feel grateful that the time I had spent on the tools, only doing plumbing and heating installations for 25 years (single trade only) is now a thing of the past.

It is said there is a major shortage of qualified tradespeople to cover the demand of work that is out there. I suppose I was one of the few tradesman that was never out of work, mainly doing new build but also refurbishments, commercial and industrial installations. I thought I was diversifying at the time, but it would seem even that wouldn't be enough these days. In doing these lines of work I had gained the required qualifications and felt I had gained a vast knowledge of these areas. But I admit that I feel I could not know all there is to known in these fields, with products and techniques regularly changing along with different regulations you need to comply with.

So to think of these mechanics who have to do plumbing course, I don't think it's detrimental to those qualified tradespersons who are of high quality, conscientious and only charge a fair fee for their work. They should not be worried about losing work to companies like British Gas and the AA, but what would be a point of concern is to what level they will be taught to.

Are you a plumber or gas engineer looking to expand your resume in order to take on more work? At Access Training we train both people with no prior experience to become fully qualified in their chosen field and experienced tradesmen looking to train in a new area of work. Each course will give you a professionally recognised qualification, providing you with the skills and knowledge you'll need for any task. For more information, contact us at 0800 345 7492.

- Mark Lewis

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