The owner of a building company has been prosecuted for breaching gas safety law after instructing an employee to reposition a gas flue, exposing a young family to serious health risks.
Josephine Zielinski, trading as JBZ Builders, of Leatherhead in Surrey, told the employee – her son – to move a flue serving a gas boiler at a property in Holly Hill, Tunbridge Wells, as part of work on an extension.
Neither the company nor the employee was Gas Safe registered so were not qualified to carry out the work. The employee moved the flue to vent from another external wall in June 2013.
However, when the family called in a plumber to flush the system some time later, he noticed the flue installation was sub-standard and reported the issue to Gas Safe Register. During a visit on 11 November 2013, a registered gas engineer investigated and classed several parts of the installation as either ‘at risk’ or not to current standards.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted and charged Ms Zielinski with a breach of gas safety regulations after undertaking its own investigation into the circumstances.
At Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court today (9 Sept), Josephine Zielinski, of Proctor Gardens, Bookham, Leatherhead, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £845 in costs after admitting the breach.
Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Rob Hassell said:
“This incident was entirely preventable and put a young family, including a new-born child, in unnecessary danger from exposure to carbon monoxide and other harmful by-products.
“Usually JBZ Builders use Gas Safe registered engineers for such work but on this occasion, and for the purpose of speed, Mrs Zielinski wrongly used an employee without the recognised competency.
“Work to a gas flue does constitute gas work, a fact that can be misunderstood in the construction industry. Such work should only be carried out by suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineers.
“Every year people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that are not properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated.”
Russell Kramer chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: “Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on. We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card and if they have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, to speak to us. Every year we investigate thousands of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk . ”