The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering has welcomed the decision in Northern Ireland to fall in line with safety regulations in the rest of the UK.
After a determined campaign and high-level lobbying by the CIPHE, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland has announced that the province’s gas installer registration scheme will be operated by Gas Safe Register from 1 April 2010.
“This is a victory for public safety and common sense,” said Blane Judd, chief executive of the CIPHE. “It was vital that Northern Ireland followed the rest of the UK and supported the Gas Safe Register, and we wholeheartedly welcome this sensible decision by the HSENI.”
The Gas Safe Register replaced the CORGI gas registration scheme in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man on 1 April this year (2009).
Northern Ireland, however, retains CORGI until April 2010. And there were fears that the province would go it alone with its own registration system, or ally itself to the Republic of Ireland’s independent scheme.
The CIPHE feared that running two systems would cause confusion, and be dangerous to public safety and health.
It urged gas installers and suppliers, trade bodies, and consumers to take part in HSENI consultation exercise which ended on 30 April. The decision, which is subject to final contract negotiations, was announced on 4 August.
Blane Judd added: “CIPHE’s main concern is the safety and health of the public, and the Gas Safe Register offers the best guarantee of safety. Having two systems would have caused confusion, and allowed unscrupulous plumbers and heating engineers to get away with all sorts of unacceptable practices.”
The HSENI offered two options for the province’s 720 registered gas operatives from April 2010: adopting the UK’s Gas Safe Register, or devising a stand-alone scheme for Northern Ireland which could be managed by Corgi.
The Gas Safe Register will be compulsory for everyone working with gas fittings.
A statement from HSENI said: “The overwhelming opinion from our consultation was that we align with the arrangements in GB and appoint Gas Safe Register as the body approved to register gas installers for work in NI. This move is in parallel with an increase in the inspection team in the Gas Safety unit, aimed at ensuring the highest level of safety for gas consumers.”