29 March 2016

The use of gas-fired heating appliances in buildings is subject to stringent regulations, and, as you'd expect, there is a wealth of information available on gas safety for householders and landlords alike. This article provides a concise round-up of the regulations and guidance for those involved in residential development.

What are the principal regulations that deal with gas safety?

There are two main pieces of legislation that deal with specifically with gas safety.  These are:

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

The statutory instrument that deals with the safe installation, maintenance and use of gas systems, including those within buildings.  It can include both domestic and commercial premises, and covers gas fittings, appliances and flues.  Its scope also covers both natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and guidance

A companion document to the Statutory Instrument, published by the HSE.  It provides guidance for anyone who may have a duty under the regulations, including installers and maintainers, on how to comply with the Regulations.  The ACoP includes guidance on the safe installation of gas-related equipment including pipes, appliances, meters and regulators, and flues; and also on standards of training in safe gas installation.

What is the Gas Safe Register?

This is the official list of gas engineers who are registered by law to work on gas appliances. It replaced the CORGI registration system in 2009. As with the CORGI registration process, gas engineers must pass a stringent process to enable them to appear on the Gas Safe Register.

What do the Building Regulations say about gas?

The Building Regulations make reference to gas in two main areas – those of ventilation, and of combustion appliances.  The relevant guidance is provided in Approved Documents F (ventilation) and J (combustion appliances and fuel storage systems) in England and Wales, and Building Standards Technical Handbook sections 3 (environment) in Scotland.

Approved Document F makes a few references to combustion appliances: paragraph 5.3 warns against the risk of an extract fan causing combustion gases to enter the room instead of discharging via the flue.  Paragraph 7.24 notes that if a combustion appliance is installed as a result of refurbishing a kitchen or bathroom in an existing dwelling, then reference must be made to Approved Document J for additional compliance requirements.  Finally, Appendix D refers to the prevention of external pollution into buildings in urban areas, including combustion gases.

Approved Document J contains comprehensive guidance relating to combustion appliances in general, as well as including a section specifically devoted to gas burning appliances.  The general guidance includes:

  • fresh air supply for combustion
  • ventilation of rooms containing combustion appliances
  • provision of flues and chimneys
  • discharge of exhaust gases near boundaries
  • notice plates for hearths and flues
  • access for maintenance

Section 3 first refers to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, and then goes on to deal specifically with gas burning appliances with a rated output up to 70kW net.  It distinguishes between flued (including balanced flues) and flueless appliances.  Note that flued appliances include both open flued and room sealed appliances.  The location of flue outlets relative to boundaries, roof overhangs, opening windows and the roofline is also considered.  Finally, constructional hearth dimensions, and shielding requirements of appliances from combustible materials are detailed.

Technical Handbook 3 covers gas appliances in a number of sections.  Standard 3.13 covers heating; but section 3.14, which deals with ventilation for human consumption, refers to Standards 3.21 and 3.22 for ventilation related to combustion appliances.  Standards 3.17 to 3.22 inclusive deal with combustion appliances.  Standards 3.23 and 3.24 cover fuel storage, including requirements for protection from fire and containment respectively.

Is there any other legislation I need to comply with?

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 interface with a number of other pieces of legislation.  These are detailed on the HSE website and include:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974)

The key legislation concerning health and safety in connection with the workplace, including employers, employees, manufacturers, designers, suppliers and importers of materials for use at work.  The Act also covers protection of the public, and visitors to work premises.

  • Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996

These regulations cover the design, construction installation, examination and maintenance of pipelines including gas pipelines.

  • Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 (as amended)

These regulations govern the management of the safe flow of gas.  This can include a single system or a network of systems.  Gas conveyors need to submit a safety case to the HSE before they can operate a network.

  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

for the health, safety and welfare of people on their premises.  This can include areas where gas appliances are located such as central heating systems.

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The duty to carry out a risk assessment by employers (and self-employed persons) of the risks to their employees (and non-employees) affected by their work.  This can be linked with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which imposes duties on gas installers and suppliers.

  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Concerning the safety of work equipment, this can include gas appliances and fittings.

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

The key health and safety duties for construction, use, and decommissioning of a building, including any gas installations in connection with that building.

  • Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000

These regulations control the storage under pressure of hazardous substances, such as liquid gas canisters.

  • Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

These govern the design and use of safety signs in connection with hazardous substances.

  • Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

Intended to reduce the risk to safety at work from fire or other explosive events due to dangerous substances.  These include flammable gases.

  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous occurrences Reuglations 2013

The obligation on employers to report specified occupation-related injuries and diseases to the HSE, including gas safety incidents.  Gas installers are required to report certain dangerous gas appliances, while incidents involving fixed pipe distribution systems are reportable by the gas suppliers.

  • Gas Acts 1986 and 1995

Generally concerned with the supply and transportation of gas, including the ability for competitive supply of gas services to consumers.

  • Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1995

All new gas-burning appliances, regardless of purpose, must comply with these regulations and be CE marked.  This includes appliances for heating, cooking, hot water production, refrigeration, lighting, or washing.