Are the differences between heating engineers and those who govern gas safety irreconcilable, asks Stuart Duff.
With HSE in the throes of running a procurement process to appoint a new gas safety scheme provider from 2019 – the invitation to tender is due to be issued in March – and the Gas Safe Decade Review having been published recently, this seems as good a time as any to ask whether there is actually anything that can be done to rectify the apparent disconnect between installers and those tasked with overseeing gas safety.
To hear the rumblings of discontent, you might imagine that the answer is no. Anecdotally, there is a fair amount of consternation that Gas Safe is simply out of touch with those who work at the sharp end. Whether the concerns are logistical, commercial or even geographical, there is a problem… and whoever ends up holding the reins next year has to engage meaningfully with installers to avoid starting life on the back foot.
Among the most commonly raised issues is the belief that there just isn’t enough understanding of (or consideration for) the way the registered installer community would like things to work. It’s easy to dismiss a scheme provider as not caring – and not having to care because it’s mandatory. On the flip side, are installers so vocal in their opposition to some elements purely because they resent having to devote so much time and money to demonstrating their competence? The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but it’s not difficult to see why registered installers are frustrated.
If you’ve spent years honing your craft, it must be galling to have to deal with substandard work on a regular basis – and that’s before the legality and safety aspects are taken into account. Among many other things, it is essential that any future scheme offers far greater opportunity for those on the register to be able to stem the tide of unsafe and unlawful gas work. If that means changing the way in which action is taken, so be it. If it means significantly higher numbers of people available to police gas safety effectively, so much the better.
More than ever, installers are coming together to voice their opinions about gas safety as a collective. It would be a strange and perilous decision to ignore them.