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Warning to employers as hundreds of thousands of small businesses risk gas safety errors

  • One in five small businesses admit that they have experienced gas health and safety issues
  • 17% admit they don’t have appliances serviced regularly
  • More than 40% would take the dangerous decision to switch off electrics if they smelled gas at work

British workers could be at risk from the dangers of gas and carbon monoxide, according to new research from British Gas. In a survey of senior managers with responsibility for energy at Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), 20% said their business had experienced health and safety issues with its boilers or gas appliances.

Of the 509 senior managers surveyed nationwide, one in five admitted that they had experienced health and safety issues (e.g. gas leak, carbon monoxide leak or an unsafe appliance) at their current or previous business premises. These businesses suffered lost trading hours (14%), lost revenue (11%) and had to buy a new boiler or appliance (14%).

Ensuring gas appliances, gas pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition is a legal requirement for all employers under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998. Landlords must also complete annual safety checks and provide on-going maintenance. But 17% of businesses admitted they don’t have their gas appliance checked at least once a year by a qualified gas engineer.

The research also revealed a lack of understanding about gas safety. When asked what they would do immediately if they smelled gas on their business premises, 41% of those surveyed said they would switch off the electrics. This is extremely dangerous, as it could spark a gas explosion. 16% would try to work out which appliance was leaking gas, while 1% even said they would shut all windows and doors to keep the gas inside the building.

More than one third (36%) of respondents admitted that they didn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted on their business premises. Businesses are advised to install an alarm if the boiler or gas appliance is near somewhere that is habitable, where people work or rest or near a bedroom.

Vincent Thomas, Field Service Manager at British Gas Business, said:

“It’s crucial that businesses take gas safety seriously. I’ve seen some alarming stuff over the years in all different types of businesses – from factories to nursing homes. When something goes wrong it can stop a business in its tracks and have a serious effect on finances, staff and customers. 

“Our engineers visit over 1,000 businesses every week, and find that many customers don’t think about the risks of carbon monoxide and gas leaks at work the same way as they might at home.  It’s absolutely essential to get any commercial gas appliance regularly serviced and maintained.”

British Gas has a national network of qualified business service and repair engineers who provide support to 27,000 businesses across the UK. Last year the company fixed 26,600 broken boilers and gas appliances and completed 27,000 service visits.

British Gas’ simple checks to stay gas safe:

  • Maintain and service your gas appliances and pipework on an annual basis
  • Any gas service, installation or repair should be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer that is qualified to work on commercial gas appliances and pipework
  • Keep a record of any gas work carried out
  • Take out a service plan if your business relies on heating or gas appliances
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your property. If you are a landlord you can buy them online and have it delivered direct to your tenants to install themselves with minimal effort.
  • Look for signs of staining, soot or discoloration on, or around your gas boiler, fire or water heater. These can be signs of carbon monoxide. Keep vents in doors, walls or windows clear to ensure gas fumes can safely escape your business.
  • Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be similar to the flu.
  • If you notice anything wrong, stop using the appliance immediately, open windows and doors to ventilate your business and call the Gas Emergency Services Helpline on 0800 111 999 (24hrs). You should also seek medical advice.
  • Get more advice here: www.britishgas.co.uk/business/gassafety

Notes to editors

ABOUT THIS GAS SAFETY RESEARCH

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 509 SME senior managers plus who have responsibility for electricity/ gas supply and have gas boiler/ heating system on their business premises. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 9th September 2015.  The survey was carried out online.

NOTES

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register with support from the gas industry including retailers, manufacturers, consumer bodies and the public.

For more information contact:

Katie Rose
British Gas
07789 575915
katie.rose@britishgas.co.uk

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk.


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