What should you be doing about gas safety at home and work?

Gas Safety Week saw UK organisations raising awareness of dangers of poorly maintained appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Every year there are around 60 deaths from accidental CO poisoning caused by gas appliances not properly installed, maintained and ventilated.

We’ve compiled this article as a reflection Gas Safety Week, discussing tips, symptoms of CO poisoning, what homeowners, landlords and business owners should be doing about gas safety and the legislation to be aware of. As well as what ARK can do to help.

A recent Gas Safe Register survey found a third of UK adults did not check their gas engineers credentials before allowing them to work on gas appliances, failing to give gas safety the attention it needs.

Jonathan Samuel, CEO of Gas Safe Register, said:

“Anyone working on gas appliances who is not on the Gas Safe Register is doing so illegally. Gas appliances can be dangerous if they’re not looked after, so it’s important to ensure they are serviced or fixed by someone who is legally registered and qualified to do so. You can look up your gas engineer’s registration number on the Gas Safe Register website, or call our helpline.”

 

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas produced in excess when carbon-based fuel does not burn properly. CO prevents oxygen travelling to cells, tissues and organs.

It can’t be seen, tasted or smelt but it can kill quickly, and in lower levels still causes serious harm, in extreme cases paralysis and brain damage.

Signs that excess CO may be present:

  • Yellow or orange flames instead of blue (except fuel effect fires or flueless appliances.)
  • Soot, yellow and brown staining around appliances.
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
  • Increased condensation inside windows.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any combustion appliance including those which burn fossil fuels e.g. oil, wood and coal. These appliances and chimneys should be serviced and maintained regularly by a competent person.

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

Early symptoms of CO poisoning can be very similar to food poisoning, viral infections, flu or just feeling tired making it easy to go undetected. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Collapse

For more information visit the NHS or telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

If you believe a gas appliance is spilling carbon monoxide:

  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999
  • Switch off the suspected appliance and shut off gas supply using the meter control valve.
  • Open all windows and doors to ventilate the room.
  • Visit your local GP and tell them you believe you’ve been exposed to CO.

How can ARK help Gas Safety?

Vacant properties don’t often receive annual gas safety checks by a registered engineer, ARK provide comprehensive inspections with a full report and photographic evidence of all inspections. The officers will take note of anything unusual including damage, hazards, strange soot or staining. They will notify you or the keyholders and respond accordingly. The in-depth reports will allow you to evaluate how gas safe you are and take any necessary actions.

Our CCTV, alarm monitoring and alarm response services means we are always aware of what’s happening on your property. If your fire or intruder alarm was to go off, ARK will take the right course of action to alert you, any keyholders and the necessary services to deal with the situation, allowing you to concentrate on what’s important

ARK’s Open and Lock service, takes the responsibility of securing your premises in an evening and ensuring it’s safe the next working day. It can be tailored to suit your specific needs, officers can turn off lights and equipment if required and ensure that everything is properly closed and locked. During this inspection our fully trained and SIA licenced staff are equipped to note anything unusual including unsafe equipment. If they find anything abnormal, you will be notified and can make any needed changes, helping you to become more gas safe.  

Gas Engineer

Gas Engineers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing pipelines, gas appliances and chimney blockages for homes and businesses. All gas appliances should be checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually and serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

The registered engineer should understand the scope of the work, including whether it’s an appliance safety check or an appliance service, requirements will vary across appliance types and models.

A safety check should ascertain whether an appliance is safe to operate. For example, the gas and safety devices are functioning correctly.

A service includes everything from the safety check as well as inspection, cleaning and condition of the appliance’s parts, detailed in manufacturer’s instructions.

Engineers will follow the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP) for any unsafe gas appliances.

The engineer may issue a report detailing their work, which may be a Gas Safety Record, but it is not a legal requirement. Individual businesses can tell you what documentation they will provide.

Homeowner

Homeowners have a responsibility for the maintenance and safety of gas supply, appliances and any other gas equipment.

If you have a shared flue or chimney, the responsibility for annual checks should is shared with your neighbours.

A homebuyer or structural survey rarely determines if gas appliances are safe and working properly so it’s advisable to have these checked before moving in. Gas safety checks should be carried out annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

If you are buying or selling in England and Wales, Business Regulations require the local authority to be notified of any gas appliances producing heat installed since April 2006. A Building Regulations Compliance Certificate will be issued for the property and should be passed to the new owners.

If the previous owners cannot provide a gas safety record or it’s been over a year since the last check, a Gas Safe registered engineer should be contacted before you move in.

Never try DIY with gas appliances, it’s putting you and your family at risk.

Gas Safe engineers can install new appliances at your property and will provide you with a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate. It is advised that you keep the certificate for two years. The engineer, if in England or Wales, will notify the Local Authority of the installation.

If any unsafe appliance is identified a warning label may be put on the appliance, in line with GIUSP. They will rectify faults if trained to do so, advise you not to use the appliance if they cannot do the work or depending on severity may disconnect the gas.

Visit the Gas Safe Register’s site for more information.

Landlord

As a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants at accommodation occupied under a lease or licence. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Rented residential premises owned by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, co-operatives or hostels.
  • Rooms, bed-sits, private households, bed and breakfast and hotels.
  • Rented holiday accommodation including chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 specifies the duties of landlords to ensure any gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues are safe.

As a UK landlord, you have three main responsibilities:

Maintenance

Any gas pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained to a safe standard, stated in the manufacturer’s instructions. If instructions are inaccessible, annual servicing by a Gas Safe registered engineer is recommended.

Any gas appliances owned by the tenant are not the responsibility of the landlord. Any connecting pipework or flue is still the duty of the landlord to maintain.

Gas Safety Checks

Gas appliances must be checked annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer, to be lawful. This is not the landlord’s responsibility when the appliance is owned by the tenant. A landlord can arrange a gas safety check for any point from 10 to 12 months after the previous check and still preserve the original expiry date. If it is before or after this time frame, the deadline date will be reset to 12 months from the latest gas safety check.

Record

By law, a record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to tenants within 28 days of completion or at the start of their tenancy. If the rental period is less than 28 days, consider displaying the record where all tenants will see it.

You are required to keep a copy of the record until a further two gas safety checks have been carried out.

Other Information

Tenants must know where and how to turn the gas off and what to do in the event of a gas emergency.

The tenancy agreement should allow for access to the property for gas maintenance or checks. If the tenant refuses to give property access the landlord must show, they have taken all ‘reasonable steps’ by law. This includes repeated safety check attempts and putting in writing to tenants that a safety check is a legal requirement.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 do not allow ‘force disconnection’ of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.

Business Owners

It’s the duty of every employer and self-employed person to ensure any gas appliances, pipework or flue at any workplace under their control is safe, maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Without this, revenue, employee and customer safety are at risk.

Any gas appliances supplied by the employer or business is their responsibility. The landlord may be responsible for gas safety in communal areas. If the employer owns the building; communal areas will be their responsibility.

The Legislation for gas safety in business includes but is not limited to:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This covers work on gas fittings in factories, mines, quarries, agricultural premises, construction site huts, sewage works and gas-fitting testing premises. Gas work must be carried out by a competent person. If any part of the premises is residential, gas work must be carried out a Gas Safe engineer.

It’s advised businesses should:
  • Have annual services, any installations and repairs done by a Gas Safe registered engineer. 
  • Keep a record of all gas work.
  • Install CO alarms and replace them every 5 to 7 years.
  • Look out for the signs of excess CO.
  • Create a service plan and stick to it, if your business relies on gas appliances to run effectively.

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

This covers gas fittings on domestic properties, shops, restaurants, schools and hospitals, as some examples. In these premises, the gas work must be carried out by someone on the Gas Safe Register.

About ARK

Alarm Response and Keyholding is part of the Asset Protection Group and we specialise in providing professional keyholding and alarm response services across the UK. Securing your home or business to ensure the safety of your family and staff. We have been providing keyholding and guarding services since 1982. Because we take the responsibility for responding to out of hours of alarm activations.  As well as securing sites on behalf of owners with fully licensed SIA security officers.