Use of a non Gas Safe engineer on gas items

Jun 20, 2005
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I will appreciate some of your valuable thoughts here please.
My neighbour around the corner had a burst pipe claim. Their home insurers sent an appointed building firm to remedy the damage, which required replacement of all the floor tiles and wood work, skirting. The job was scheduled for five days but in the end took five weeks.
The Insurers builders went off site and said all was ok. For the first time in five weeks they started cooking on the gas hob. There was a massive explosion which set fire to part of the kitchen units and blew the hob and separate oven asunder. It transpires that whilst laying the new floor tiles the builders removed the oven and hob. A non gas safe qualified person did the removal and reinstallation. This is admitted by both the Inusrer’s builder and the Insurer. The Insurers have offered £600 for the “ damages” shock stress etc and have agreed in writing a non gas safe engineer was used. The main gas pipe to the hob hadn’t been fitted. It was just butted up but not tightened at all as confirmed by the fire brigade and BGas.
So what do you think should happen now?
My neighbours and their two dogs were feet away from injury,.
They are traumatised.
Looking at vicarious legal liability the Insurer must be responsible for using a non gas safe engineer.
What are the legal protocols penalties for using a non gas safe engineer?
Is there a statutory fine , penalty, for doing such a negligent action?
To which authority should this disgraceful service and action be reported?
How would you calculate a damages award?
I am sure the FCA would fine an Insurer serious money for such a major breach of professional conduct?
Not quite caravanning but I know you clever people will give me your thoughts.
Many thanks
DD xx
 
Sep 5, 2016
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Dusty, I know for a fact that in my part of the world it is common practice for a person who is gas safe and holds the correct paper work to inspect a gas job for a mate and pass the job ,
 

Mel

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Mar 17, 2007
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Thank goodness your neighbours were physically unharmed. The emotional trauma will take a while to subside though. Admitting to breaking the law, as the insurers have done, would I hope result in criminal proceedings against the Insurer, and a far more substantial claim for damages than the £600 offered.
Hope your neighbours are getting some good legal advice.
Mel
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Moved as requested Sir DD.
I'm no expert but I'd have had a word with the police because an explosion took place which has damaged property and could easily have caused death or injury.
News reports suggest that police are normally involved when a gas explosion takes place, as are the fire brigade who determine whether there is proof of criminal negligence.
The website for the Health and Safety Executive states that it's illegal for any unregistered person to carry out work on any domestic gas appliance, Click Here
The HSE statement doesn't mention gas explosions so the builders have committed a criminal act.
 
Jun 20, 2017
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Under HSE law, what occurred was a dangerous occurance and should be reported to the HSE, it’s actually an offence not to report it too!
It’s likely that the contractor will be prosecuted, I am surprised the fire service didn’t report it?

At least no injuries were incurred.
Personally, I would get a solicitor involved, perhaps the neighbours insurance company can advise on the legal process?

Kevin
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Kevin2306 said:
Under HSE law, what occurred was a dangerous occurance and should be reported to the HSE, it’s actually an offence not to report it too!
It’s likely that the contractor will be prosecuted, I am surprised the fire service didn’t report it?

At least no injuries were incurred.
Personally, I would get a solicitor involved, perhaps the neighbours insurance company can advise on the legal process?

Kevin
Thanks for your thoughts Kevin.
The problem is the neighbour’s Insurers sent in the duff Contractor!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I am also very glad that no one was physically hurt, but we must not underestimate the trauma of being close to such an event. and of course there are the tangible losses. I do not like these " no win, no pay" ambulance chasing companies but its likely one of these would love to take on such a case.

The Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations applies to all gas appliances and installations. There are some specific exclusions but domestic installations definitely come under the control of the Act and would apply in the case identified by Dusty.

The Act makes it a criminal offence for a non competent person to work on any part of a gas installation or appliance. It also applies for the management of any business that they must ensure that only competent people work on gas systems falling under their control.

I too am surprised that it appears no formal investigation has been started, as clearly criminal activity has occurred. Perhaps it has but we don't have all the facts.

I suspect the insurance company would not be held directly responsible, becasue they will have awarded the contract to business who takes responsibility for the H&S on the site including the checking of competencies.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Thanks Prof.
Talking to my Gas Safe qualified Son it is a criminal offence as you point to which can and will result in a criminal prosecution including a prison sentence.
This happened 10 days or so ago so is still fresh. The fire brigade attended. You raise a very important point. The Police. Thanks Prof. We’ll contact them tomorrow.

On the last point Prof I take a different view.
This entire matter was subject of a bona fide insurance claim.
The Insurers took control of all aspects of the repairs including the gas aspects.

I believe the Insurers have a vicarious legal liability for the performance of their appointed contractors.
So in my view it is the Insurers who are liable. What happens behind the scenes in Law under a third party writ should not be my neighbours problem. It was their Insurer who instructed the contractor.
I didn’t work directly in HSE matters but it does seem to me the Insurer could well be fined heavily by the authorities for breaching the Gas Safe regulations by employing an incompetent person. The FCA will not be happy and may well apply a six figure penalty ??

At the end of the day the real question here is ——-+ can you trust the contractors your home insurers send in to fix the problem??
It causes me concern.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Your first point of getting the situation sorted out is to report the situation to the H&S as a criminal offence has been committed and is punishable by an unlimited fine, a prison sentence or both . It does not mean that a prison sentence will be handed down, but it can, plus damages.

As far as further culpability is concerned, you are best advised to contact a solicitor about this matter.

The Insurance company would have employed one of their trusted contractors, what the contractor did in regard to employing the cowboy gas fitter is a question which needs to be answered.
 
Sep 5, 2016
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In the mid 90's British Gas started to fit showers so we contacted them to one, on the day two contractors turned up to fit the shower, the following morning I got up for work at 0400 and the one of the bedroom doors did not open because the pipe they had fitted in the loft was leaking, I had a right job with British Gas they tried to shun responsibility and said it was down to the contractors, sorry British Gas my contract was with you and eventually they did pay up, also forgot to say in the process they set the loft on fire,
 
Sep 29, 2016
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Hi Dustydog,

With regards to the HSE, this may be of interest:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/
If the insurercontractorresponsible person has not made a report under RIDDOR then they may well find themselves in breach of an HSE regulation, and may be further penalised for failure to comply with the requirement of the regulation itself.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Dusty,

We are not as far apart as you think on the culpability of the insurer for the work being carried out. Yes they are the commissioning body for the works and they are also the pay master, but just as Damian has concluded, the insurer will use a contractor who will have provided assurances through the tendering or CDM process concerning competencies for the work involved. Assuming that process was followed they will have shown due diligence in the appointment of the contractor.

It is the contractor that takes control and responsability for the site and who does what on the site, and they are the ones who have failed to direct the works and personnel.

We had a situation at a school during some major building works, it was asbestos, not gas related but it was considered to be just as serious. A major buildings project was being directed and funded by a diocesan education service. A main contractor was appointed, and they appointees sub contractor to undertake some demolition work. An asbestos survey had been done and it was suspected there was some in a redundant boiler house. The sub contractor woth an asbestos removal licence was employed.

When it came to the job, the sub contractor set men to work in the boiler house, who were not accredited asbestos removal. They dislodged a part of the boiler and a cloud of dust ensued. The main contractors site manager saw the cloud coming from the boiler house he knew of the asbestos report and he imediately evacuated the site.

The work men in the boiler house had been wearing dust suits and face masks but not the full PPE gear for asbestos removal, and medical tests suggested their inhalation exposure was minimal, but their risk of long-term injury is still there.

Fortunately it was raining and the dust cloud did not appear to spread beyond the site, but the site and it's surroundings had to be checked. No contamination had spread beyond the site, but the affected areas within the site had to be decontaminated which took 4 weeks.

The HSE did investigate, the Sub contractor was held to be directly responsible for the incident. The Directors were fined, and their asbestos removal licence revoked. The main contractor was given a caution, but the Diocese were absolved as they had passed control of the site to the main contractor.

I suspect the same logic would be applied in your neighbours case, as the insurers will have handed control of the site to the contractor.

Whilst the insurer may not be held culpable for the criminal act, that does not absolved them of their responsibilities to the customer for the failure and enduring damage to the customers property and wellbeing.
 
Mar 10, 2006
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Your friends case is cut and dried, all they need to know now is how much compo there can get. There have it in writing with a derisory offer already made.
I would be wanting around the 10K figure.

I would be seeing a solicitor for consultation.
 

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