Liverpool company at forefront of national campaign to shake up gas safety industry

A Liverpool company is helping to spearhead a UK-wide campaign to overhaul the gas safety industry.

Gas Tag is working with the father of a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning as part of the initiative timed to coincide with Gas Safety Week (18-24 September).

Newlywed Katie Haines, 31, drowned in February 2010 while having a bath after being overcome by deadly gas fumes from a faulty boiler. She was found by her husband Richard at their home in Wokingham. They had recently returned from their honeymoon in Brazil.

Katie Haines and dad Gordon Samuel. Photo credit GARETH JOHN DAVIES

Katie Haines and dad Gordon Samuel. Photo credit GARETH JOHN DAVIES

Katie’s father, Gordon Samuel, 66, is demanding the following action:

  • Change the law to make it compulsory for all gas boilers to be safety checked and serviced annually;
  • Make it mandatory for carbon monoxide alarms to be professionally installed in all properties;
  • Gas Tag technology to be put in place to ensure only Gas Safe Register approved engineers work on appliances.

Gas Tag is a pioneering new British system which has been developed to ensure that the correct work is carried out on gas appliances at the right time, by approved engineers. It has already won the support of several MPs including George Howarth and Louise Ellman.

As soon as a physical Gas Tag is installed on the gas inlet in a property it tracks all the property’s gas appliances, services and installations – and can only be used by a qualified Gas Safe Registered engineer.

The company, based in St Paul’s Square, Liverpool, has already seen its technology signed up by a number of local authorities and housing associations.

Katie’s family set up the Katie Haines Memorial Trust charity to raise awareness of how fast CO poisoning can strike. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted or smelt. According to the NHS, it kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and causes a further 4,000 people to be hospitalised. However, this is thought to be much higher as there are no post-mortem checks for CO as a cause of death, particularly among the elderly.

Research from Gas Safe Register shows that 1 in 5 people are unaware that carbon monoxide cannot be seen in a room, and 2 in 5 have no idea that the gas is odourless. Around 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out every year by illegal gas fitters who are not properly qualified, putting householders at risk. And 84% of UK homes have smoke detectors but only around 15% have CO alarms.

Gordon, who co-owns an art gallery in London, said: “It is vital for the law to change. It is shocking that it is not compulsory for gas boilers to be serviced annually and that there are so many jobs being done by illegal fitters.

“When a car goes for an MOT it is subject to industry standard checks, yet a gas boiler can be issued with a safety certificate with little more than a quick visual check. Some engineers are even approving boilers without visiting a property while others backdate records.”

He added: “It’s not even enough to check your own boiler, but your neighbour’s too. There have been incidences of people being poisoned by a neighbour’s faulty boiler after deadly fumes have seeped through an adjoining loft.”

Paul Durose, co-founder and CEO of Gas Tag, said: “We are looking to revolutionise the gas safety industry to help prevent deaths from CO poisoning. Gas Tag allows engineers to be accountable for their work because it is scrutinised in real time, tracked and recorded.”

From left Stephen Ullathorne and Paul Durose of Gas Tag

From left Stephen Ullathorne and Paul Durose of Gas Tag

In April, Knowsley MP George Howarth tabled an Early Day Motion praising Gas Tag and calling on landlords and social housing providers to support the ‘life saving initiative’.

Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said: “This is an important innovation in gas safety.”

The technology has also drawn praise from the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group Barry Sheerman MP, who said: “This is the most significant quantum leap in domestic gas safety compliance for 20 years. Gas Tag could help protect hundreds of thousands of families across the UK and ensure competent Gas Safe Register engineers undertake the work in customers’ homes.”

About Gas Safety Week

Gas Safety Week, which runs from 18-24 September, raises awareness of gas safety issues and emphasises the importance of having an annual gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Poorly maintained gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. There have been 21 deaths and over 800 gas-related injuries in the last three years, according to the HSE.

For more information on Gas Safety Week visit

GAS FACTS

  • Recent research from the Gas Safe Register has revealed that almost 5 million people across the UK are putting themselves at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions by employing illegal gas engineers who are not properly qualified.
  • It has been shown that 65% of gas jobs carried out by illegal fitters are unsafe and one in five gas appliances they work on are so dangerous that they have to be disconnected immediately.
  • One in five people who employ a tradesperson to work on a gas appliance do not check their ID card or qualifications.

GAS SAFETY TIPS

  • Have all your gas appliances serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent your home ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record.
  • Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Around 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out every year by illegal fitters. Research shows that 16% of people would trust an engineer if they said they were registered, rather than checking their ID card.
  • Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register to work safely and legally on gas appliances. Click here to find a business or check an engineer.
  • Fit a Gas Tag to your property
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak, call the free 24 hour national gas emergency number immediately on 0800 111 999.

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