The changing face of gas safety

Paul Durose of Gas Tag shines the spotlight on gas compliance and safety processes and what we can do better as an industry to improve

The importance of having visibility within your compliance processes can’t be understated. When it comes to gas safety, a good starting point is looking at some of the main problems the sector faces. When the Gas Safe Register conducted a mass inspection on 142,000 properties and the appliances inside them, they worryingly discovered that one in six homes in the UK have a potentially dangerous gas appliance. This means that across the UK there could be roughly four million homes in danger from a faulty appliance. There are many possible reasons for this widespread danger. One of the major considerations are the divided and flawed approaches to training of engineers across the industry. One thing Gas Tag has found while developing its solution was that rarely would the engineers carrying out the same job have the same processes or methods to complete the work.

This could be because the industry is fragmented in the way we learn. Illustrating this point, there are various training schemes across the sector which deliver similar qualifications but have major discrepancies in learning time – some training courses last a couple of months where others can last a couple of years. Another consideration is that every year an estimated 1.1 million illegal jobs are conducted by unqualified rogue gas fitters, leaving a dangerous trail of appliances behind them. One common question we get asked is how is this allowed to happen?

There can be a number of reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that only one in three residents ask the engineer for proof of competency (Gas Safe ID card). This can be attributed to a lack of confidence to ask the visiting engineer for qualifications or due to a lack of knowledge, i.e the resident doesn’t know they can ask for identification. One thing from this research is abundantly clear, there must be a change in mindset and approach to the way we look after our home safety. All this research has been conducted for gas safety, but what about all of our other home safety and compliance obligations?

To tackle these accountability issues, organisations working within safety and compliance industries need to take a modern, technological approach to improve living conditions for all, not dissimilar to the approach the convenience focused sectors have taken. If you look at the type of technology we use on a daily basis to order retail products, taxis and takeaways such as Amazon, Uber or Deliveroo they all provide a level of transparency and accountability through every step of the journey from order to delivery. It’s beyond unusual that this type of accountability hasn’t previously been transferred to compliance and safety. If you’re a resident, how do you know that your property has been properly serviced by someone qualified? In this day and age, is a piece of paper which says your home is safe, really adequate? All we need to do is consider the improved technology and consumer standards we’ve all grown accustomed to and ask ourselves, do we know enough?

Particularly when it’s our home safety at stake. We’ve all seen the success of the transparent services mentioned earlier, and now that we know how they can help, we shouldn’t go backwards and accept older ways of working as standard. In gas safety terms, processes such as signing a piece of paper or keeping an electronic certificate with no real substance or detail behind it, need to evolve. In the same way that the research from the Gas Safe Register demonstrates that residents who welcome tradespeople into their home need to become more aware, there is also a mission for new technology providers to inform the housing managers and contractors – who the residents trust for their gas safety – that our solutions can alleviate many of the issues our sector faces.

Case study

This is not just a view held by us. It’s shared with many contractors we have been working with. Here is what experienced industry contractors and Gas Tag users Clairglow Heating have said: “With over 40 years of working in the central heating industry, Clairglow Heating has seen many advances and changes take place. Some have been positive and others not so! Ensuring that we keep up with innovations that help us to deliver a high quality service to our clients is both a challenge and a priority for our business.

Gas Tag has been one innovation that we have embraced and not been disappointed by.” “The Gas Tag system gives us the confidence that our boilers are being maintained correctly and thoroughly and access to the portal provides transparency to the work that has been carried out. The system is simple and easy to use for both engineers and administrators alike and provides a solid structure to the gas servicing process that ensures a consistent approach across the Company. The system is already helping to make us more accurate and the visibility that the systems gives us will undoubtedly help us to manage our engineers more effectively.” “We look forward to seeing future developments and believe that this is one innovation that could truly help to shape the Gas Servicing Industry for the better.”

We have the opportunity now to use technology to give an unparalleled level of transparency of our industry to our customers. Residents are increasingly demanding transparency through technology in the services they use and with our industry embracing this approach, it can only serve to raise public confidence about the safety of the gas works conducted in their homes.

Paul Durose is founder & CEO of Gas Tag