Better ‘Gas Safe’ than sorry

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Better ‘Gas Safe’ than sorry

24th September 2010

Tenants are being urged to check the safety of their gas boilers following a recent case in which landlords admitted breaching safety regulations and carrying out repair work themselves.

Karl Tonks, a health and safety specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the couple's actions had highlighted the legal responsibilities landlords have for the safety of their tenants, and the need for tenants to ensure their boilers were being properly maintained.

The co-landlords of a property in Bristol were fined after pleading guilty to two charges after replacing a boiler without being registered members of the Gas Safe Register - the only official list of gas engineers legally able to perform gas work on boilers, hobs, ovens, fires and all other gas appliances.

"Faulty boilers, gas leaks and carbon monoxide are all obviously extremely dangerous," said Karl, a partner with the firm. "Working with gas supplies is a highly specialised job and must only ever be carried out by properly trained and Gas Safe certified engineers."

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are legally responsible to ensure their boilers are maintained and checked by registered engineers every 12 months. In addition, safety records must be provided to new tenants before they move in and to existing tenants within 28 days of checks being completed.

Carbon monoxide - which is both tasteless and odourless - kills one person every week in the UK and can be extremely difficult to detect. If inhaled, it enters the bloodstream affecting breathing before leading to unconsciousness, coma or even death. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, chest pains and nausea.

Landlords must ensure rooms housing boilers are properly ventilated and tenants made aware of the tell-tale signs that indicate a boiler may be faulty. These include the boiler pilot light appearing orange instead of blue, soot marks above fuel-burning appliances and wood or coal burning fires that are difficult to light, burn slowly or often go out.

"Although carbon monoxide detectors are highly recommended," said Karl, "tenants must be aware that detectors are only warning devices. They should never be used as a replacement for regular maintenance and safety checks."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
If you or a family member has suffered an injury as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - HSE