Couple lucky to survive as explosion blew out ground floor windows and damaged walls…
A Lincolnshire plumber has appeared in court after he was charged with carrying out unsafe gas work that caused a couple to sustain severe burns after an explosion at their home in Nettleton.
The plumber had been contracted by the couple to reduce the height of two unused gas pipes in a kitchen that they were planning to convert into a new living room. The man completed his work and left the couple’s home on 21 JUly 2011. However, shortly later on that same day the couple noticed that the gas supply had been left turned off. The householder reset the valve on the LPG gas tank that was in his garden but later began to smell gas. As the couple tried to discover where the gas leak was coming from, it ignited, causing a massive explosion.
Such was the force of the blast that all the ground floor windows of the property were blown out while two walls had to have support work done to prevent them from collapsing. The couple themselves suffered severe burns to various parts of their body and the male occupant required a skin graft on his hands – an operation from which he is still recuperating. The couple were also forced to stay in a caravan for a year while their home was repaired after the explosion.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident discovered that the plumber was both unregistered and unqualified to carry out work of this kind. The explosion is believed to have been caused by the accidental puncturing of a hole in a gas pipe while the plumber was excavating an area of the floor near the pipe.
The man from Lincolnshire pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulations 3(1), 3(3) and 5(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. Lincoln Crown Court ordered that he receive an 11-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered as well as 300 hours of unpaid work and costs amounting to £2,000.
HSE inspector David Butter commented after the hearing:
“Anybody who carries out work on gas pipes or appliances without being on the Gas Safe Register is breaking the law. The plumber endangered the lives of this couple as soon as he began work. They are extremely lucky to have survived.
“It is essential that homeowners and businesses check gas installers are registered with Gas Safe before having work carried out to ensure the job is completed to the required safe standard.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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