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Man avoids jail for carrying out illegal gas work

Aberdeen Sheriff Court
Aberdeen Sheriff Court

A domestic gas engineer escaped with community service after carrying out work on commercial catering premises that he was not competent to do.

James Skinner was employed by a gas company in the north-east but, unknown to them, he was carrying out private gas fitting work in take-aways and restaurants as an unregistered engineer.

Yesterday Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard the work he was carrying out in premises in Stonehaven and Portlethen in 2010 could potentially have been extremely dangerous.

And after an investigation was carried out into his work a number of safety issues were discovered including an open-ended gas pipe that was left uncapped.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector said this could have caused a significant build-up of gas and a subsequent explosion, had the isolation valve been turned on by mistake and the gas ignited.

The court heard Skinner issued gas safety records on the wrong forms using a Gas Safe registration number that he fraudulently claimed was his own, when in fact it belonged to a former employer.

Skinner’s activities were investigated by the HSE after complaints from Gas Safe Register and Aberdeenshire Council.

The 43-year-old, of Cairngrassie Circle, Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, was ordered to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work in the community as a direct alternative to custody having admitted four breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He also admitted breaching part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE inspector John Radcliffe said: “In carrying out this commercial work while not registered and competent to do so, Mr Skinner put those working in these premises, those living and working nearby and customers visiting them at risk.”

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