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Community service for builder who botched gas work

13 Oct 11 A self-employed Lockerbie builder has been given a community service order after he carried out unsafe gas installation work at a house near Dumfries.

Kevin Graham was carrying out general building and plastering work at Greenbank Cottage on the outskirts of Ecclefechan during the spring and summer of 2009. The owner of the property bought a gas fire, which Mr Graham offered to install as he said it was relatively easy to do and had done so in his own home. Mr Graham was not a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The Gas Safe Register is the official compulsory registration scheme for gas engineers in Britain. It is illegal to carry out domestic gas works for gain or reward without registration.

After Mr Graham had installed the gas fire, it was used regularly until January 2010, when the owner of Greenbank Cottage called a local plumbing and heating company to ask them to look at the fire as he had noticed a smell of gas.

A qualified gas engineer with the firm carried out a visual check of the fire and also noticed a smell of LPG. He identified a gas leak at the back of the fire and immediately prohibited its use. The company then raised their concerns about the fire to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

On 19 February 2010, a Gas Safe Register inspector visited the property and found that the fitting connecting the gas supply to the fire was loose, causing LPG to leak. The 11-metre supply pipe had also been unsafely installed, as it had been routed around the property without any support, putting stress on the soldered joints of the pipe, which also would have led to gas leaking.

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The investigation also found that the flue from the fire was not functioning properly so there was a risk that smoke and fumes could re-enter the property when the fire was in use.

Mr Graham had also left unsealed gaps within the builders opening of the fire and used wood and expanding foam within the builders opening, which had a very high probability of causing a fire. He also left the gas fire unsecured to the fire surround, leaving it unstable and making it possible for fumes to escape further.

Within days of the Gas Safe Register inspection, the HSE issued a prohibition notice against Kevin Graham stopping him from carrying out any work on or to gas fittings or service pipe work.

At Dumfries Sheriff Court Kevin Graham, of Westside, Eaglesfield, Lockerbie, was given a 240 hours community service order after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Regulation 3(3) and 26(1) and Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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