A self-employed drainage contractor has been sentenced after conducting gas work he was not registered or competent to do and leaving it in a dangerous condition.
Plymouth Crown Court heard how Mark Lauder, who trades as DrainTech South West, was contracted by a landlord to repair a water leak at a tenanted property in Plymouth during May 2017. The leak was in a water pipe buried in the concrete floor of the property. As he uncovered the water pipe using power tools he struck a live gas pipe. There was an immediate release of gas and Mr Lauder sensibly turned off the gas at the property meter.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that when he made the repair, Mr Lauder used the wrong type of fitting and failed to test his work to ensure that it was gas-tight. Instead of contacting the gas emergency services he left the damaged gas pipe overnight and attempted to repair the gas pipe himself the following day.
The landlord instructed a properly registered gas engineer to visit the property who found that there was a leak and traced it to the repair made by Mr Lauder. Mr Lauder is not and has never been registered to undertake any form of gas work.
Mark Lauder of Ridge Park Road, Plymouth pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 3(1), 3(3), 6(2) and 6(6) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He has been sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for each charge, suspended for two years. The sentences are to run concurrently. He was ordered to pay costs of £2,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Mr Lauder undertook gas work which he knew he was not registered to do. Having undertaken this illegal gas work he then compounded the situation by burying his repair to hide his work.
“His unregistered and illegal gas work was of such a poor standard that it could easily have resulted in a gas explosion that could have killed the tenants at the property.
“All gas work must be done by a registered Gas Safe engineer to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent injury and loss of life.”