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Building firm left family in danger after gas flue work.

SHODDY and careless building work left a family exposed to potentially lethal fumes in their home, a court heard.

Janusz Wojcik and Phillip Thomas, partners of P Thomas and J Building and Home Improvement Specialists based in Lochaber Street, Cardiff, were fined PS1,500 each after pleaded guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations at Cardiff Crown Court.

The company was contracted to carry out loft conversion work at a property in Bettws, near Newport, on behalf of Newport City Council in November 2010.

As part of improvement work the company had to replace a flue from the gas fire.

The court heard this was left in an "immediately dangerous" condition, allowing potentially lethal fumes to escape into the loft space occupied by a woman and her four young foster children.

The householder had agreed to modifications to her home with a grant from the council but had concerns about the quality of work carried out and found faults with the plumbing system.

Gas Safe Register, which sent an officer to investigate, found the flue from the gas fire had been removed from just below the level of the loft, allowing poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the loft space.

It was classified as "immediately dangerous".

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to obtain advice from a Gas Safe registered engineer before the chimney and flue were removed.

HSE Inspector Dean Baker said: "Janusz Wojcik and Phillip Thomas failed in their duty to ensure the gas fire was made safe before they removed the chimney and flue.

"The shoddy and careless work by contractors could have cost a family with young children their lives.

"Anyone carrying out work on or near a flue should get the advice of a Gas Safe Registered engineer before starting work.

"It is never acceptable to assume that a gas appliance will not be used after a flue has been removed."

The householder, who did not want to be named, said: "The contractors were not competent and put me and my foster children at risk.

"My son started complaining of headaches and feeling sick and I put it down to him playing computer games, not carbon monoxide. "When the Gas Safe Inspector found the flue had been removed I realised how lucky we were."

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 27, 2014
Words:390
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