A recent survey carried out by the Gas Safe Register (www.gassaferegister.co.uk), as part of their latest public safety campaign, has revealed gas engineers to be the most trusted of all tradespeople (23.5% of the more than 2000 people who took the survey said they trusted gas engineers the most, with meter readers coming in a not-so-close second, at 14.4%).
There is, however, such a thing as being too trusting, as the survey also revealed that many engineers are being employed based upon politeness, eye contact, confidence, smart clothing and a nice smile, instead of qualifications or skill. One in four of those surveyed even admitted to deciding whether an engineer is trustworthy within the first five minutes of meeting them. When it comes to gas boilers, this misplaced trust could have grave repercussions, as shoddy work could lead to leaks, or even explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. An exposé carried out by Which? of ten qualified engineers from big-name providers such as British Gas and HomeServe found that just two conducted the minimum amount of legal safety checks required, and even they did not follow proper guidelines. Of the eight who neglected the minimum checks:
- Six failed to notice that operating pressure had been set too high, which could result in overheating.
- Two failed to remove the boiler’s casing to check its seal.
- One who did remove the casing spent longer drinking his tea than the 13 seconds it took to replace.
These misconducts were all caught on hidden camera and then assessed by experts against gas regulations and the manufacturer’s servicing instructions which engineers are required to refer to, making evidence against the culprits irrefutable. One expert even told Which?, “These engineers haven’t got the knowledge or experience to understand what they’re looking at.” The watchdog has since passed its dossier on to the Gas Safe Register, urging it to take harsher action against incompetent engineers. As Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, rightly pointed out: “Faulty boilers could have serious or even fatal consequences for consumers, so more must be done to check up on and crack down on incompetent engineers.”
With reportedly hundreds of thousands of illegal gas jobs being carried out every year in the UK, it is critical that reputable providers and engineers take measures to prove to their customers that they are qualified for the job at hand. Jo Hemmings, an expert behavioural psychologist employed by the Gas Safe Register to advise on the matter, says, “Offering credentials is the only sure way for tradespeople to prove they are trustworthy and safe,particularly for jobs which require legal qualifications, such as gas and electrics.” The organisation’s latest initiative, Trust the Triangle, urging people to only trust engineers who carry the Gas Safe ID (which sports a triangle-shaped logo, as shown in the advertisement to the right) is currently being disseminated via social media by way of the hashtag #TrustTheTriangle.
Of course, there are many highly skilled and reputable engineers who don’t carry the Gas Safe ID; the moral of this story is essentially that it’s always worth going for substance over style. We use a number of expert engineers who carry the Gas Safe ID; for more information about our gas boilers and other mechanical services, make sure to give us a call on 01473 320 350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Turner AES National Gas Engineer