Rogue gas fitters are putting peoples’ lives at risk and leaving them out of pocket as homeowners are not checking their tradespeople are working legally, according to new research by the gas safety authority, Gas Safe Register. The Register, which replaced CORGI in 2009, is urging homeowners to be more diligent in checking the ID and qualifications of their tradespeople.
The survey of 2,000 homeowners revealed that of those people who had gas work carried out in the last year, more than one in four (28 per cent) didn’t even think about checking that the engineer was legal and on the Gas Safe Register. Furthermore, nearly one in two (46 per cent) said they trusted the fitter was qualified on face value.
One in six people even went on to admit that they would knowingly employ an illegal gas fitter if they came recommended. The cost to employ a gas engineer is also more important to homeowners than safety, with more than two in five people (41 per cent) wrongly assuming that illegal gas fitters are cheaper than registered engineers.
An estimated quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year, and Gas Safe Register’s ongoing investigations are uncovering that nine in 10 illegal gas jobs are not completed to the required standard. In fact, one in five jobs are so dangerous that Gas Safe Register has had to act quickly to switch the appliance off because it could have immediately caused a gas explosion, fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
With 20 deaths and nearly 1,000 gas related injuries in the last three years, Gas Safe Register works with the Health and Safety Executive to crack down on unscrupulous rogue gas fitters. Every week three successful prosecutions are completed against illegal gas fitters who have endangered homeowners and left people out of pocket.
Jan Collins, a mother of two from Manchester, knows only too well the dangers and implications of not checking if a gas engineer is registered. She commented:
“When my husband and I employed a fitter to work on our gas fire, we didn’t think about checking if he was registered as he said he was. After he finished the work we started using our new gas fire but I found that I began to have heavy nosebleeds and severe headaches, and we saw black marks around the fireplace. We found out that the fire hadn’t been installed properly and was leaking carbon monoxide into our home. I’m just lucky that we figured something was wrong and got it checked before it got any worse or affected our kids.”
Russell Krämer, chief executive at Gas Safe Register said: “We can see that people are far too trusting in the tradespeople they hire, and they are unknowingly putting themselves in danger. It’s important to check your gas engineer’s registration, not just to make sure they’re qualified to do the job in hand, but also to make sure they’re working legally. A registered engineer will always be happy to show you their ID card and explain to you what gas work they are qualified to do.
“If you suspect any illegal gas work, you can report it anonymously at GasSafeRegister.co.uk/ReportIllegal or by calling 0800 408 5500.”