Charlie Mullins, head of arguably Britain's biggest plumbing firm - Plimco Plumbers, has taken a stand to highlight a serious loophole in current gas regulations. 

While it is common knowledge that gas engineers need to become Gas Safe registered once qualified in order to legally install and maintain gas appliances, the same does not apply when it comes to the purchasing of boilers and other gas-related equipment. Although some builders' merchants will check their customers registration before letting them buy such things, an increase in internet-based suppliers is making this something harder and harder to police.

Because of this, rogue engineers can find it far easier to trick customers into believing that they are Gas Safe registered. Not only them, but also unqualified indviduals such as homeowners who may not know the rules and believe they could have a go at it themselves. Should a mistake be made by either of these parties, the results can be fatal and potentially cost people their lives.

Therefor Mr Mullins believes that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) needs to clamp down on this huge flaw in the system, extending its regulation of the gas market to the purchase of equipment - something that can only be done by altering the law.

The Plimco Plumbers CEO considers it "ludicrous" that buying boilers/gas equipment is as simple as walking into a shop or clicking your mouse. He added that gas "in the wrong hands is a lethal weapon and used incorrectly people will end up dead".

He went on to talk about how once a "cowboy gas fitter or over enthusiastic amatuer" is in possession of these things, the law is powerless to save lives despite it being illegal for them to install it. Certainly prosecutions can follow should that person be found out, but in most of these cases prosecutions only happen after a life-taking tragedy has already happened.

Charlie suggests:"The truth of the matter is there’s only one opportunity to protect people from this dangerous legal anomaly and that’s to make it illegal to buy gas equipment without a Gas Safe ticket. We have built ourselves a pretty decent safety system to protect people from monoxide poisoning, so why do we insist on retaining a great big hole in the net? The law needs to be changed because this is something that will save lives."

What are your thoughts on the matter? Certainly the thought of non-qualified people being able to go into their local branch of B&Q and purchase gas equipment should be alarming to all the Gas Safe registered installers out there, after all the training you have gone through to get where you are today. To become a fully qualified gas engineer, candidates need to go through a rigorous training course - at the end of which they will be able to build up their gas portfolio and pass the required ACS assessments. Only then will you be able to join the Gas Safe register and be legally permitted to work on gas installations and appliances.

To find out more about what it takes to become a Gas Safe engineer and Access Training's range of intensive gas courses, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Those that have completed their gas training and gone on to become a fully qualified gas engineer can now save even more money thanks to CORGI's VAT Saver.

According to their website CORGI VAT Saver works on an extremely complicated algorithm that allows you to calculate your VAT taking into account the 'energy saving' element of the job being subject to the lower VAT rate. All you need to do is enter the details and they handle the rest. 

Now, to bring the scheme in line with new legislation they are offering even more savings - an additional £142 for every boiler you install. What you choose to do with this is entirely up to you - you can keep it yourself or alternatively pass it on to your customer to ensure even more business in the future.

Corgi VAT Saver registration is absolutely free and can be used by any Gas Safe registered engineer (you will need your ID number when signing up). All you need to use it then is access to the internet, so it'll be available to you at home, in the office, out on a job and anywhere else you may need it. You can register online or call them at 0800 612 8490.

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Before you can take advantage of such a great offer, you'll need to be a member of the Gas Safe Register - something you won't achieve without the proper training. Here at Access Training you can gain the skills to become a fully-qualified gas engineer in our state-of-the-art centre. Work alongside like-minded students and experienced teaching staff to kickstart the next stage in your working life. To find out more call our team 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.

With Gas Safety week coming up soon Access Training will be highlighting the importance of gas safety in our blog in the lead up to 16-22 September. However this isn't always going to be in a fun and educational way - yesterday the Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing magazine reported two separate instances of dishonest traders either fined or leaving people at risk because the tradesmen were not Gas Safe Registered.

The first article reports that a self-employed heating installer from King's Lynn was fined for illegally carrying out sub-standard gas work at two homes in Norfolk. Ryan Neale, trading as R. Neale Plumbing and Heating, installed gas appliances and pipework despite not being Gas Safe registered. He was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for his work at each property – four charges in total.

Secondly, a London heating installer was also fined for illegal and unsafe gas work. Abhishev Yadav, 28, of Greenwich, installed a boiler at a property on Penywern Road, Earls Court, that was later classed as ‘at risk’ because the flue was not properly sealed or secured. He carried out the work in March 2011 on behalf of his firm Ability Heating, while falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered. He was was fined a total of £7,500, and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge for breaching the same regulations.

In response to these stories,  Gas Safe Register chief executive Russell Kramer has issued this statement: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand. You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of any tradesman installing, maintaining and decommissioning gas appliances and can only be achieved when they have been awarded all of the relevant gas qualifications. The register can also be used by homeowners to search for a suitable tradesman in their area, or to ensure that the one they've hired is a legitimate gas engineer. 

If you're interested in earning the qualifications to become a qualified gas engineer, Access Training offer comprehensive gas courses that will have you well on your way to success. Completing our courses successfully will give you the skills and knowledge to join the Gas Safe Register and start a new and rewarding career. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

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