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Illegal gas fitter and mobile home firm fined

A plumber who carried out illegal gas work at a mobile home park and the firm that hired him have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Plumber Michael O'Sullivan laid gas pipes underneath a property without ensuring there was proper ventilation, Harlow Magistrates' court heard.

The pipes passed through a brick base underneath the mobile home and the lack of ventilation meant a gas leak could have accumulated underneath it.

O'Sullivan was not registered to work on gas equipment and his work was found to be unsafe by HSE gas specialists who were investigating complaints from residents.

O'Sullivan was fined £1,000 with £500 costs and Sines Parks Ltd, the park management company which hired him to do the work, was fined £2,500 with £2,000 costs. HSE issued the self-employed plumber with an immediate prohibition notice, banning him from carrying out further gas work until he was qualified and registered.

'If one of these pipes had leaked gas underneath the mobile home, it could have seriously endangered people's lives. It was extremely fortunate the poor workmanship was discovered before it was too late', said HSE Inspector Steve Hook.

Residents at the mobile home site in Waltham Abbey contacted the HSE in early 2009 after discovering unsafe fittings on cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) used for heating and cooking.

O'Sullivan admitted breaching 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. Sines Parks Ltd, of College Road, Harrow, admitted breaching Regulation 4 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. The company had a duty to check that Mr O'Sullivan was registered.

The company owns 13 parks in the region. Sines Parks retains ownership of the land and manages the utilities but residents own their own mobile home.

'It is illegal for an unregistered person to carry out such work. When unqualified 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 people's lives at risk. Firms also have a legal obligation to ensure anyone commissioned to work on gas equipment is legally qualified to do the job. It is easy to check if someone is registered with the Gas Safe Register and there is no excuse for failing to make that check, ' said Inspector Steve Hook.
6 April 2010

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