Unsafe gas work leads to fine for kitchen installer

A Staffordshire kitchen fitter has been has been fined after he carried out illegal gas work and put families’ lives at risk.

Stewart Pitt, 41, of Wombourne, Wolverhampton, was fitting kitchens for a local firm as a self-employed trader. Between August 2011 and the end of September 2011 he put three households at risk by undertaking defective gas work.

The incidents were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Mr Pitt at Stafford Magistrates’ Court today (22 May).

The court was told that between 22 and 25 August 2011, Mr Pitt fitted a kitchen in a home in Wombourne. In doing so, he fitted wooden kitchen units around a boiler which created a risk when the boiler caused the units to heat up to dangerous levels. At the same property, he also cut gas pipes when he wasn’t registered to do so. The installation was classified as ‘at risk’ when later examined by Gas Safe Register.

There is evidence that Mr Pitt was aware that the kitchen affected the safety of the boiler, yet did not take measures to remedy the situation.

At a second property, he disconnected then reconnected a gas hob, when he wasn’t registered to carry out such work. At a third house, he also disconnected then reconnected a gas hob, and left a gas pipe open and uncapped, which could potentially have caused a gas leak.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Mr Pitt on 10 October 2012 ordering him to cease carrying out gas work until he was registered with Gas Safe Register.

Stewart Colin Pitt of Sytch Lane, Wombourne, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,463.

Speaking after the hearing an HSE inspector said:

“Mr Pitt showed a reckless disregard for the welfare and safety of the householders he put at risk by his illegal gas work over a period of two months in 2011.

“Around 10 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. In addition, illegal and sub-standard gas work can lead to fires or explosions.

“There are legal rules and obligations governing gas work for the very simple reason that defective work can be lethal.

“Gas work should only be carried out by someone qualified and competent to do so. They need to be current Gas Safe registered members, which demonstrates they have up-to-date qualifications and competencies.”