Gas engineer sentenced for putting tenants at risk

A gas engineer has been sentenced to 120 hours of community service for putting tenants at risk in rented homes in Chelmsford.

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Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that James Wilkinson was Gas Safe- registered for some types of gas appliances, but had been carrying out work for which he was not competent. Wilkinson was contracted to work on gas warm air units at five rented homes, including a house in Bouchers Mead, Chelmsford. He did not hold the required qualification to undertake the work. Wilkinson twice left the gas installation at Bouchers Mead in an immediately dangerous condition.

He left a gas leak following a repair and then failed to service the warm air unit correctly, leaving the tenants exposed to carbon monoxide. They were only alerted to the danger by their carbon monoxide alarm.Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and toxic gas that can cause unconsciousness and death at high concentrations. About seven people die each year as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide from poorly maintained gas appliances.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Wilkinson worked on warm air units when he was not competent to do so and not Gas Safe-registered to do the work.

HSE inspector Susan Matthews said: “It is essential for public safety that gas appliances are only maintained by gas engineers who are competent to work on them and registered with Gas Safe Register for that work.”

James Douglas Wilkinson, of Falmouth Road, Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 120 hours community service and ordered to pay costs of £2,527 and a victim surcharge of £60.

Phoenix comment “An important part of competence is knowing the limitations of the work you are able to carry out. In this case, the gas engineer was not competent to do the work he has carried out which has left him vulnerable to prosecution and his clients in great danger.”