Customers and staff at two seaside takeaway restaurants were left facing the risk of an explosion after a plumber carried out illegal gas work, a court heard.
Richard Smith, of Wren Road in Dagenham, Essex, was given a four-month jail sentence – suspended for a year – after admitting six separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations at Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court.
Magistrates also ordered him to carry out 240 hours of work for the community and pay costs of £892.
The court heard that even though he wasn’t registered with Gas Safe, or competent to do so, the 56-year-old plumber carried out the yearly safety checks on the gas cookers at The Chick Inn in Southend and Tasty Chicken at Westcliff-on-Sea in May 2012.
He had also carried out an annual check on a gas boiler.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told magistrates that Mr Smith was using a Gas Safe card which he had got while with a previous employer but which had since expired. He had also never received training for working with commercial catering appliances, the court heard.
Appliances left ‘at risk’
Magistrates heard that the plumber had been told not to make false claims to customers the previous year but had ignored the HSE’s warning.
The HSE said the equipment had been left in an “at risk” condition, leaving the owners of the fried chicken outlets and their families – as well as customers and staff – in possible danger.
Following the court case Sue Matthews, an inspector with the HSE, said food odours and extractor fans in commercial kitchens meant gas leaks could go undetected, making it vital to have proper safety checks carried out.
She said poorly-serviced equipment could people at risk from carbon monoxide fumes and end up leaking, raising the chances of an explosion or fire.
Accident Advice Helpline can help people make claims for compensation if they have been poisoned by carbon monoxide in their workplace.
Date Published: April 24, 2014
Author: David Brown