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13th September 2017

Are you in control of your gas safety?

Introduction

As summer draws to a close, nights draw in and the temperature lowers, we turn to our radiators and fires to keep warm. Gas fuel is an efficient way of warming homes and many care homes use gas for heating homes, kitchens to cook food, and some commercial tumble dryers are gas powered. Health and Social Care landlords and their agents can be distracted in the day to day running of a care home to let their Landlords gas safety certificate lapse putting residents, visitors and staff at risk. Gas whilst an efficient source of heat can be fatal if poorly managed, causing explosions and fire.

What signs do I look out for which might indicate a gas leak?

A gas leak will release carbon monoxide into the air and can be very dangerous. Staff and residents according to Gas Safe Register will show the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Collapse and loss of consciousness

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Flames of a lazy yellow or orange colour on gas hobs, rather than crisp blue
  • Dark staining on/around appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation inside windows

What do I do if I smell a gas leak?

The difficulty is that a gas leak can be difficult to detect, as according to British Gas it is odourless and thus a silent killer.

If you suspect a gas leak you must:

  • Ring Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 (24 hours)
  • Turn off main gas valve lever (the yellow handle is turned away from the pipeline)
  • Get fresh air immediately
  • Open doors and windows
  • Turn off gas appliances
  • Evacuate the building (remember that gas leaks can cause fire and explosions)

A gas leak is very much treated in the same way as a fire evacuation and is seen as imminent danger.

How do I keep everyone safe?

There are a number of things to keep people safe and include:

  • Using a Gas Safe Registered contractor (ask for their ID badge and check them on click or phone 0800 408 5500) – they can tell you if their licence is current, lapsed or they are not registered. A genuine gas engineer will be happy that you have checked! If an engineer is not on the register get their name, ask them to leave and report them immediately – they are putting other lives at risk!
  • Have carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors installed, needed in each area which has gas appliances – they must be CE marked and to EN 50291. Portable detectors are about £15 and the batteries last about 5 years – I would advise that when the batteries are low you simply replace the detector as the CO2 filter at this stage is likely to be less effective
  • All gas appliances must have an annual service by a Gas Safe contractor and you must have an annual LandLords Gas Safety Certificate. This certificate can only be issued if your gas appliances are safe and you must have any faults repaired, the engineer identifies. Remember that any Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) i.e. kitchen fans are serviced at least annually by a Gas Safe engineer and you have a certificate to verify this (some companies put verification labels on or near the equipment) however you must still have a certificate of inspection
  • Ensure that staff who deal with gas safety engineers know what is required prior to any work commencing, all call outs will have a call reference number
  • Ensure all staff know what to do if they suspect a gas leak and who to report too!
  • Ensure all staff know where the main gas cut off, electric cut off and water cut off valves are and how to switch them off in an emergency
  • Ensure that kitchens and boiler houses have 2 exit routes and have either a sprinkler system in place or extinguishers available
  • Make sure there is plenty of ventilation around gas appliances, that flues and pipes are not blocked and; both kitchens and boiler houses have an emergency shutdown button which when activated, cannot be automatically switched on. Your Gas Safe engineer can advise a suitable unit for your business
  • Never switch on the gas supply (if turned off in an emergency) until a competent approved Gas Safe Engineer has deemed everything safe to use
  • Investigate any gas related incident fully

Show me the legislation

Like all accidents in which death, loss of consciousness or hospitalisation, this is RIDDOR reportable and covered under section 11 of Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 which states:

11. (1) Where a conveyor of flammable gas through a fixed pipe distribution system, or a filler, importer or supplier (except by retail) of a refillable container containing liquefied petroleum gas, receives notification of the death, loss of consciousness or taking to hospital of a person because of an injury arising in connection with that gas, that person must—

(a) Notify the Executive of the incident without delay; and

(b) Send a report of the incident to the Executive in an approved manner within 14 days of the incident

(2) Where an approved person has sufficient information to decide that the design, construction, manner of installation, modification or servicing of a gas fitting is or could have been likely to cause the death, loss of consciousness or taking to hospital of a person because of—

(a) The accidental leakage of gas;

(b) The incomplete combustion of gas; or

(c) The inadequate removal of the products of combustion of gas

What documents do I need to keep?

  • Landlords Gas Safety Certificate
  • All maintenance certificates on any gas appliance including flues, ventilation systems which extract fumes, smoke etc.
  • You have to keep records for at least two years. For more information see regulation 36(3)(c) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
  • All routine documentation of audits, reports including Fire risk assessment and servicing system reports etc.
  • Any local authority, environment agency, fire and rescue, CQC notices and reports

Gas Safety Week

This is an initiative which the HSE with Gas Safe run every year to raise awareness of gas safety and the need to use only Gas Safe Registered engineers. To find out more click on the link to Gas Safe at click or go to the HSE website at click. This year Gas safety Week is from 19 – 25 September 2017.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Dave Bennion

Health and Safety Specialist

Dave is a multi-sited safety practitioner with extensive experienced in health and safety, fire safety, environmental management, quality and lean management consulting in a variety of industry setting. Dave is also the Director of DGB Health and Safety Ltd based in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

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