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Man fined for dangerous gas work

A gas engineer from South Warwickshire has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for carrying out dangerous work that put two people at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Cecil Boliver Crane, who trades as Peter Crane Plumbing and Electrical Ltd, installed a gas fire in the lounge of a house in Shipston-on-Stour, in September 2009 without adequate ventilation.

This meant that the potentially lethal gas, carbon monoxide, was allowed to build up in the room.

Leamington Spa Magistrates' Court heard that in December 2009 householders Anthony and Annette Sabin, aged 69 and 58, both fell ill with flu-like symptoms, including tiredness, headaches and vomiting. They had been using the fire for more than four hours every day.

Several weeks later, they noticed black, soot-like, marks on the lounge walls and ceiling, and black stains on tiles in a downstairs toilet and first floor bathroom.

They contacted the Gas Safe Register, who classified the fire as immediately dangerous. The Health and Safety Laboratory tested the fire and found it produced high levels of carbon monoxide, although a catalytic converter within the appliance reduced these to safe levels.

HSE's investigation into the incident found Mr Crane, of Signal Road, Shipston-on-Stour, did not provide an air vent covering an area of at least 100cm2 as specified in the manufacturer's instructions.

Once they had stopped using the fire, Mr and Mrs Sabin recovered from their illness.

Mr Crane pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 26(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.

HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said: 'As working with gas appliances is potentially very dangerous, gas engineers have a very high duty of care towards their customers.

'Mr Crane failed in this duty of care by installing a fire which was found to be immediately dangerous. Poorly installed gas work can cause explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning, which can kill and can also cause serious long-term health problems.

'Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, vomiting, collapse and loss of consciousness.'

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register said: 'Gas Safe Register monitors the standards of gas work undertaken by those on the register and also offers a free consumer complaint inspection service. All Gas Safe registered engineers are issued with ID cards that identify the areas of gas work within which the engineer can operate and we encourage the public to always ask to see these before they have gas work undertaken.'

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8 July 2011

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