Worcestershire man prosecuted for illegal gas work

A Worcestershire man has been prosecuted for carrying out illegal and dangerous gas work which put lives at risk at a home in Worcester.

Self employed unregistered gas fitter Mark Crake, of Worcester Road, Malvern was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after he left a resident with a newly-installed gas hob leaking gas.

Despite not being registered, Mr Crake fitted the gas hob on 29 July 2011 without carrying out a pressure test to confirm there were no leaks and without tightening the connections to the gas hob.

Worcester Magistrates were told today (11 March) the home owner smelt gas after returning home in the evening and went to bed with windows open. In the morning, she contacted the National Grid and was advised to immediately turn off the gas supply at the inlet valve.

National Grid sent a First Call Operative to the house that morning, who confirmed there was a significant leak from the gas hob, and isolated and turned off the supply. Mr Crake also returned some days later to tighten the connections to the gas hob.

An investigation by Gas Safe Register confirmed the boiler had not been fitted correctly and to current standards.

Mark Crake pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 3 (7) and Regulation 3 (3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 as well as a breach of Section 3 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to four months in prison for each of the three offences with the sentences to run concurrently, but suspended for 12 months, alongside 250 hours of unpaid community work. He was ordered to pay £3,500 towards costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Gregory said:

“Mark Crake carried out potentially lethal work at a home in Worcester. Poorly maintained, faulty or badly installed gas work can cause explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal or cause serious long-term health problems.

“This is why it is essential that only people who are registered as competent, qualified gas engineers with Gas Safe should carry out work on gas fittings.”

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

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by people who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely with gas.

“It’s therefore vital that people always make sure the person working on their gas appliances is on the Gas Safe Register. If they don’t, they could be putting their family’s lives and homes at risk from gas fires, explosions, leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“You can check if your engineer is legal and safe to work with gas by asking for the Gas Safe ID card. You can also check the engineer’s identification number by calling us on 0800 408 5500, or visiting the website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk” link to external website.

On average, 20 people each year die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by poorly installed, maintained or ventilated gas appliances and flues. Many more people become seriously ill and in extreme cases, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause paralysis and brain damage.