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Research into gas engineer training courses finds cause for concern

For immediate release – Tuesday 7 February 2017

Research commissioned by the Gas Industry Safety Group (GISG) and the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) has found an alarming disparity in the level of training provided to gas engineer students in the UK, potentially leading to unsafe practices.

The work was undertaken in light of an increase in unsafe gas work from recently qualified engineers, with volumes up from 1% to 5% (Gas Safe Register) leading to growing concerns that some training appears to focus on passing assessments rather than really testing job competency.

The research involving in-depth interviews with newly qualified gas engineers included questions relating to course lengths, theory and practical components in course content, assessments, industry placements and mentoring opportunities.

The research revealed particular unease expressed by some interviewees that training had been too short, particularly for those with no prior experience.

Concerns were also raised about the apparent willingness of some training establishments to keep training failing students until they passed the assessments, regardless of how many attempts taken to gain the qualification and with little apparent regard for the students’ ability to fulfil the essential competency requirements.

Chris Bielby, Chairman of the GISG said:

“The GISG is shocked and disappointed by these research findings as they highlight a fundamental flaw in the gas industry which ultimately could affect the safety of customers. We are specifically concerned about the discrepancy in course durations, the certifications of very short courses, the imbalance between theory and practical course content, and differences in pass and fail criteria between some training colleges.”

“It is paramount that we as an industry work together to ensure high standards of gas engineer training and capability are upheld across the country. We call on the government and industry to undertake a review to establish minimum standards of training across all gas engineer training programmes.”

Ian McCluskey, Head of Technical Services at IGEM said:

“IGEM is disappointed by the findings of the research and is concerned by the apparent lack of consistency in the standards of training in the industry. IGEM published IGEM/IG/1 Standards of training in gas work in 2014 and IGEM/IG/1 Supplement 1 Non-domestic training specification in 2016 covering requirements for new entrants which have not yet been implemented by the industry. As the professional body for the gas industry we are committed to ensuring that all training meets the necessary standards and that engineers are competent to carry out their role.”

“This research highlights the need for the gas industry to now come together and ensure there is a robust system in place which will create a level playing field and put an end to these poor practices.”

ENDS

About GISG

Since its formation in 2000, the Gas Industry Safety Group (GISG) has brought together the UK’s gas industry to maintain and improve safety performance.  GISG promotes gas safety by improving cooperation and coordination throughout the industry, sharing best practice, commissioning key research and providing an opportunity to address safety issues on a collaborative basis. www.gisg.org.uk

About IGEM

IGEM (Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers) is a chartered professional body, licensed by the Engineering Council, serving a wide range of professionals in the UK and the international gas industry through Membership, events and a comprehensive set of Technical Standards. www.igem.org.uk

Click here to download a copy of the research report.

For further information please contact:

Adrian McConnell                   

Manager

The Gas Industry Safety Group

T: 020 7706 5111
M: 07792 219649
E: adrian.mcconnell@energynetworks.org
W: www.gisg.org
Follow us: @GISGUK

Latest Government figures show rented properties in England less protected from carbon monoxide leaks than private homes

For immediate release – Wednesday 15 March 2017

The Gas Industry Safety Group (GISG) has reviewed the recently released Government figures contained within the 2015-2016 English Housing Survey, and is pleased that they shed more light on the risks of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents potentially going unnoticed, but also calls for more progress to be made.

The percentage of houses containing CO alarms is shown to range from only 21% to 33% dependent of the type of property, averaging at 28% of homes. These figures are generally in line with estimates made by industry bodies such as the GISG and one of its member organisations CoGDEM (Council of Gas Detection & Environmental Monitoring), who believe that the use of CO alarms has slightly increased over recent years from about a quarter to about a third of relevant homes. There is still a lot of progress to be made before the population of CO alarms in use gets close to the population of smoke alarms, which is greater than 80%.

The GISG is particularly concerned that the figures show that the private rented sector has a significantly lower population of CO alarms than owner occupied dwellings, indicating that around 4 out of 5 rented properties are not protected by these potentially lifesaving devices. In October 2015 the Government introduced the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 for private rental dwellings, but these regulations currently only require the fitting of CO alarms in rooms containing a solid-fuel burning appliance. Some estimates show that only around 8% of the rental dwelling stock has solid-fuel appliances installed.

Both GISG and the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) would like to see the scope of this requirement extended to rented properties containing a heating or cooking appliance powered by any type of fossil fuel.

Chris Bielby, Chairman of GISG said:

“It is good to see some improvement in the number of homes protected by CO alarms, but it is disappointing that the figures do not show higher levels of use. GISG would like to see more protection of tenants, so with the Smoke and CO Alarm Regulations for the private rental sector being reviewed in October 2017, there is an immediate opportunity for an amendment to cover all fuel types, which would get the full support of GISG, APPCOG and CoGDEM.”

Barry Sheerman MP, CO-Chair of APPCOG said:

“There is a great opportunity this year for Westminster to bring the English landlord regulations more closely into line with those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where CO alarms are required for rented properties with gas, oil or solid-fuel appliances. APPCOG believes this would be a simple change to make to the existing regulations.”

Leigh Greenham, Director of CoGDEM added:

“The fitting of CO alarms into rented properties has saved tenants’ lives, so it is logical for the relevant English regulations to be extended to ensure all landlords fit alarms, which should always comply with the tough safety standard BS EN 50291.”

ENDS

About GISG
Since its formation in 2000, the Gas Industry Safety Group (GISG) has brought together the UK’s gas industry to maintain and improve safety performance.  GISG promotes gas safety by improving cooperation and coordination throughout the industry, sharing best practice, commissioning key research and providing an opportunity to address safety issues on a collaborative basis.

www.gisg.org.uk

About CoGDEM

The Council of Gas Detection & Environmental Monitoring (CoGDEM) aims to provide for the efficient organisation and development of the gas detection, gas analysis and environmental monitoring industry and to enhance the common interests of its Member Companies.

www.cogdem.org.uk

About APPCOG

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) is the leading forum for Parliamentarians to discover, discuss and promote ways of tackling carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK.

www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/home

English Housing Survey 2015 – 2016

www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-housing-survey-2015-to-2016-headline-report

For further information please contact:

Adrian McConnell                   

Manager

The Gas Industry Safety Group

T: 020 7706 5111
M: 07792 219649
E: adrian.mcconnell@energynetworks.org
W: www.gisg.org
Follow us: @GISGUK

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