New checks as gas safety warnings issued

Half of the gas safety defects spotted in catering premises across Argyll and Bute last year were not corrected afterwards, the authority announced this week.

Environmental health inspectors are now carrying out new checks on the safety of gas installations in the area, warning that workers and the public could be at risk.

Inspectors will be looking to see that businesses have gas safety records dated within the last year and that any defects have been put right by the business owner.

This initiative, which will be carried out during routine food safety inspections, follows a pilot exercise completed out last year which also found 60% of the premises checked had no record of the inspection of appliances or ventilation systems.

And a third of the records that did exist were out of date.

Sandy Taylor, chairman of Argyll and Bute’s planning, protective services and licensing committee, said: “Gas safety tends to be a neglected subject but it is vital that caterers comply with the law and maintain their gas installations in a safe condition.

“We know there are not as many gas engineers working with catering equipment in Argyll and Bute as we would like and we are working with the industry to encourage more companies to get the qualifications to do this.”

Unsafe gas cookers, ovens and extraction systems can cause health problems for workers as well as unpleasant, hot and humid working conditions.

In the worst case, fire and explosion can happen if equipment is not properly installed and maintained.

Strict rules ensure gas cookers, ovens, boilers and ventilations systems are safe and do not present a risk to the safety of workers or the public.

All businesses are required to have work done only by competent gas engineers. Gas installations need to be inspected on an annual basis by a competent engineer and any defects made good.

The engineer will leave a gas safety record which must be kept on site for inspection.

Businesses can find properly-qualified gas engineers at or by telephoning Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500.

The council’s regulatory services department has produced new guidance for caterers on keeping their gas installations safe, and this can be downloaded here.