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Essex fireplace fitters fined after gas leak

An Essex fireplace installation company has been fined after their inadequate work on domestic gas pipes put a family’s life at risk in their own home.

Fireplaces by Heals, of London Rd, Leigh-on-Sea, was commissioned to install a new fireplace at a home in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex, on 28 February 2012. Due to a shortage of staff, the company’s retired director, Les Heal, was sent out to prepare the area for the fitting of the new fireplace. He removed a section of gas pipe that was protruding through the floor and carpet and then capped the pipe underneath the floorboards with a compression joint.

When the householder got home from work at 5am after a night shift, he immediately smelt a strong gas odour throughout the house including in the main bedroom, where his wife was sleeping.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the joint had been capped with an inadequate fitting and in an inaccessible place, which is contrary to British standards and potentially dangerous.

On 30 August, Southend Magistrates’ Court was told that Fireplaces by Heals had failed to use a competent and Gas Safe registered engineer to ensure that the work carried out on the property had been properly completed, therefore putting lives at risk.

Fireplaces by Heals was found guilty of breaching Regulations 3(2) and 4 of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.


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