Sussex lives put at risk by cowboy technicians, says Which?

Malcolm Farrow
Malcolm Farrow

Cowboy technicians are putting lives at risk across Sussex by failing to perform basic safety checks when servicing boilers, leaving households with ineffective and potentially dangerous heating systems in the run up to winter.

An investigation by consumer group Which? found that eight out of the 10 gas technicians it secretly filmed failed to meet the minimum legal requirements for a boiler service with two technicians not even taking the case off the boiler to inspect it.

While the report focused on gas technicians, all types of boiler, if not properly serviced, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills an average of 40 people and hospitalises a further 200 every year.

Households who use unqualified technicians are most likely to be at risk.

In response, OFTEC, the UK trade body for oil heating, is urging homeowners to be more vigilant about employing unqualified technicians and to check a technician is fully competent before they start work.

All competent technicians will have an identity card showing the areas of work they are trained to do.

Consumers should report rogue tradesman to their local trading standards office and, if they suspect their heating systems could be dangerous, they should turn it off and get it checked immediately.

Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, said: “The months leading up to winter are typically the busiest time for technicians servicing boilers. Unfortunately, there could be unqualified rogue tradesmen in Sussex who put people at risk by cutting corners and failing to perform the necessary safety checks. We strongly urge homeowners to use a competent person such as an OFTEC registered technician for oil boilers or a Gas Safe registered technician for gas boilers.”

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