TSI warns of rogue gas fitters following disturbing research results
As the days are getting colder and many of us are turning to our central heating the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is urging consumers to take care should they need to find a handyman to fix their boiler.
Brian Smith, TSI’s lead officer for crime and disorder, said: ‘We are very concerned by new figures showing that a quarter of a million gas jobs are potentially botched every year by irresponsible traders who don’t have relevant skills or qualifications.
‘Gas and cowboys can be a lethal mix and we’d urge anyone who needs gas work done in their home to not only make sure the trader carries a Gas Safe card, but that they check the back of the card where it states what appliances the gas engineer is qualified to work on. ‘
The trading standards expert further advises consumers who need work done in their home to find a trader through a trading standards or local authority supported scheme such as Buy With Confidence, and to where possible get three quotes for comparison.
He said: ‘Don't use anyone who just drops in a leaflet or just comes to you doorstep to offer their services - they could be anyone. Also check that the address where they are based is legitimate - simple spelling mistakes are often a tell tale sign.’
Research recently commissioned by Gas Safe Register revealed that 250,000 gas jobs are done every year by cowboy traders who do not have the necessary skills or qualifications for the task at hand.
An estimated 7,500 illegal gas fitters are behind these shocking figures, putting thousands of lives and homes at risk every year. The will not only carry out gas work but will take on plumbing jobs (90%), bathroom fitting (81%), kitchen fitting (67%), general building (43%) and electrical work (43%).
One in 10 of the illegal gas installations investigated in the last nine months were immediately dangerous and appliances had to be disabled straight away to make them safe. Over a third of these were leaking gas, and almost half had faults that could lead to lethal carbon monoxide exposure.
Gas Safe Register’s national investigations manager Phill Brewster said: ‘We want everyone to understand that different types of gas work require different qualifications. Just because someone is qualified and registered to work on one gas appliance, for example gas boilers, does not mean that they are automatically qualified to put in a gas fire.
‘The work that engineers can legally do is listed on the back of their Gas Safe card – it’s so important to check this every time you have work done.’
Notes to editors:
Accent carried out the research for Gas Safe Register in August 2009. To be in scope for the interview, respondents had to say that they personally undertook at least one of four types of gas work (fitting gas cookers or hobs, gas fires, gas boilers or doing gas pipework). In total, 427 people were interviewed of whom 270 were from online sources and 157 were advertising in Yellow Pages or Thomson directories.
In the last year, 20 people died from CO poisoning, fire, explosion and other exposure related to gas and 289 were hospitalised. (Source: HSE Gas Safety Statistics)
Trading Standards Institute
Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals since 1881. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to two million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.
Gas Safe Register
Gas Safe Register is the registration body appointed by the Health and Safety Executive to manage the gas safety register in Great Britain and the Isle of Man. It is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out domestic and commercial gas work to be registered, and comply with the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.
The register of more than 121,000 gas engineers held by Gas Safe Register aims to protect people from dangerous gas work. Gas Safe Register assesses the competence of engineers by inspecting the gas work they have carried out to make sure they are safe to work on gas. Gas Safe Register is focused on gas safety and campaigns to raise awareness of gas safety risks associated with using illegal gas workers.
Gas Safe Register deals with all aspects of the downstream gas industry covered by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. It covers both piped natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Gas Safe Register replaced the CORGI gas registration scheme in Great Britain and Isle of Man on 1 April 2009.