Unregistered gas fitter prosecuted for boiler installation

An unregistered gas fitter from Verwood has been prosecuted for an illegal and dangerous boiler installation at a Bournemouth home.

Michael Smithers, 45, undertook the work at Shelbourne Road in December 2011 after falsely claiming to be qualified to carry out work on gas appliances.

He was prosecuted yesterday (28 April) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation established that he wasn’t a member of the Gas Safe Register – a legal requirement for anyone undertaking such work.

Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard that when tenants moved into the property in January 2012 they started to experience problems with the boiler. An engineer from the boiler manufacturer attended, identified a number of defects and put a warning notice on the boiler, instructing that it should not be used.

Mr Smithers later returned to rectify the defects, noted the warning notice, but disagreed with the boiler manufacturer’s engineer and turned the boiler back on. Being concerned, the tenants contacted the letting agent and another engineer came to resolve the issues.

A Regional Investigations Officer from the Gas Safe Register identified a number of problems with the standard of the installation and condition of the boiler, including nine specifically relating to the work done by Mr Smithers.

Michael Smithers, of Nightingale Close, Verwood, pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Mehtaab Hamid said:

“The Gas Safe Register exists to protect the public from people like Mr Smithers who are prepared to work illegally and carry out potentially dangerous gas work. Fitting appliances without being competent to do so can be highly dangerous and can lead to loss of life.

“Those who undertake gas work must be on the Gas Safe Register.  Anyone who works on gas appliances without being registered is breaking the law. Mr Smithers knew this and falsely claimed to be Gas Safe registered, yet he clearly wasn’t competent to carry out gas work – as demonstrated by the defects identified with his work.

“This case highlights the need for householders to check the credentials of anyone working at their property, especially where gas is involved.”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“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 link to external website.”