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October 19, 2010

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Plumber put customers’ lives at risk from illegal gas work

A self-employed plumber has appeared in front of magistrates for carrying out illegal gas work at properties in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The Gas Safe Register received a complaint that Michael Gallimore, 62, had falsely claimed to be a legally-registered gas engineer when installing gas boilers at a number of properties between 2008 and 2009.

The Register alerted the HSE, which sent inspectors to properties in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, and Weeting in Norfolk, where Gaillimore had fitted boilers. At both houses the boilers were found to be immediately dangerous.

The owner of the house in Weeting, Frank Simmonds, told inspectors that Gallimore had promised to provide evidence that he was qualified to carry out the work but failed to produce the documentation. Mr Simmonds said: “We asked Michael Gallimore if he was qualified to do the gas work and he told us he was. We asked to see his paperwork and he said he would provide it to us later – but it just didn’t appear.

“I would advise anyone hiring a tradesman to always check and double check the paperwork before you allow them to start work in your home. You think it will never happen to you, but it can.”

HSE inspector Sue Matthews warns that the Executive will not tolerate unregistered gas work. She said: “It is illegal for an unregistered person to carry out work on a gas appliance. When unregistered workers try to bypass the law in this way they are not only putting themselves at risk of prosecution and a large fine, they are also putting their customers’ lives at risk.

“Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. Only qualified and registered engineers should attempt it. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way.”

Gallimore appeared at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on 14 October and pleaded guilty to breaching regs. 3(3), 3(7) and 33(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. He was given a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £4000 towards costs.

Following the hearing, Gas Safe Register chief executive, Paul Johnston, commented: “Dangerous gas work can be deadly. Badly-fitted and poorly-serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon-monoxide poisoning.

“If you’re having gas work done, no matter how big or small the job, only use a Gas Safe-registered engineer. And always check the engineer’s ID card to make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. Just because an engineer can work on boilers doesn’t mean they can automatically fit a gas fire.”

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