Dealer hot topic: Passing a Gas Safe audit

A gas safety inspection can be a daunting prospect for any catering equipment distributor that has never had one before.

Every company involved in installing commercial kitchen equipment will have no qualms acknowledging their accreditation obligations, but it’s more than just ID cards that officials will want to see when they pitch up to examine your working practices.

The Gas Safety Management audit typically begins with an office visit from what the Gas Safe Register terms one of its ‘large business inspectors’ (LBIs), whose role it is to assess the suitability of your gas work procedures in relation to the type of gas works undertaken by your business.

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The first thing to do when you know the visit is coming is to make sure that the right personnel from your business are present, or it will just hold up the process from the start.

“You will need to ensure your gas safety manager or any other appropriate responsible person is available for the duration of this audit,” says Kevin Davis, managing director of Professional Kitchen Service, who admits that when his company was audited for the first time he simply wasn’t aware of the level of detail required by the inspectors.

If there is one thing that is more important to note than anything else it is that a nod of the head or a simple ‘yes’ answer is not enough — supporting evidence is absolutely necessary.

The best thing that distributors can do, says Davis, is prepare as much of it in advance as possible. “The LBI will want to verify that forms, documents and procedures are in place to support and ensure the application of safe gas work,” he says.

In essence, the whole purpose of an inspection is for the Gas Safe Register to assess three key things: that systems are in place for ensuring gas work is undertaken by competent engineers; that the operating systems result in safe gas work; and that the relevant industry regulations and standards are being met. Again, it is no good just stating they are; the LBI will need to see concrete proof.

Following the management audit of a distributor’s gas safety management procedures and systems, Gas Safe Register will jointly agree a ‘programme of work inspection’ that involves operational field staff.

The purpose of this is to examine the competency of safe gas work undertaken by engineers working for your business. In most circumstances, the number of inspection sites and the categories of gas work will be agreed at the time of the audit visit.

As the LBI will typically want to see a selection of gas installation and maintenance work, arrangements will need to be made to gain access to suitable sites in advance. This can include ‘live’ sites, where gas work is being carried out on the day, or ‘post’ sites, where the work has been completed.

Again, it is vital to make sure that a competent member of staff, such as a quality control assessor, accompanies the LBI, says Davis. “This will make your engineers feel more comfortable and allow the inspector to visually monitor your QC process in action,” he adds. “Engineers and QC Assessor will be expected to carry out all necessary gas safety checks and tests during the inspection visits and therefore should be suitably equipped.”

So what happens after the audit has taken place? Well, firstly, the result is sent through pretty quickly after the visit. There isn’t a pass or fail scenario as such, but more of a working tool that highlights areas not up to standard. “It is then up to the distributor to put the necessary changes and processes in place so that they improve their processes accordingly,” says Davis.

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What does a Gas Safe inspector want to know about your business?

There are nine key gas safety areas that the Gas Safety Register evaluates. Here’s a rundown of what inspectors will be looking for.

1. Engineer selection and induction

Distributors will need to show that processes are in place to ensure any ‘potential’ engineer is qualified and experienced in the type of work you wish them to undertake, as well as demonstrate that checks are made to ensure potential engineers don’t have any outstanding Enforcement Notices or Suspensions against them.

Officials will want to know if the company has an induction process that embraces gas safety and see that information on contractors is kept up to date. It should be reviewed every 12 months as a minimum.

2. Training and qualifications

The Gas Safe Register seeks to ensure that engineers are issued with and carry Gas Safe Register licence cards.

The business will need to show that it monitors engineers’ ACS assessments for renewals, records other types of training, such as manufacturers’ courses, and holds current information for sub-contractors.

It is also worth pointing out that any changes to engineers must be communicated to Gas Safe Register within three business days, a requirement that many catering equipment distributors probably don’t realise.

3. Supervision and quality control

All distributors are expected to have a proportionate level of supervision and quality control in place.

Inspectors require supporting evidence that quality control checks are carried out on gas work, the results are sufficiently recorded, and action is taken on the results of monitoring if necessary.

4. Work records and building regulations notification

This area is about ensuring that correct paperwork, such as job sheets and maintenance records, are being used and are appropriate for the type of gas work undertaken.

The content of the sheets will be verified to ensure correct completion and that they allow for positive recording of the results of gas safety work and checks.

5. Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure and RIDDOR

All businesses must ensure engineers identify and action any unsafe situation in accordance with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP) and the Reporting of Injuries and Dangerous Diseases Regulations (RIDDOR).

Distributors need to have a suitable procedure for dealing with unsafe situations and reporting RIDDOR.

6. Technical standards and support

Businesses should have suitable technical support in place relative to the type of gas work undertaken, and evidence will need to be shown during the inspection.

You will need to demonstrate that engineers have access to relevant and up-to-date technical support, such as British Standards. There needs to be a system for ensuring engineers are informed of changes in legislation and safe working practices.

7. Gas safety equipment

Engineers need to carry the appropriate gas safety equipment and specific equipment should be calibrated at regular intervals.

Distributors should have supervisory procedures in place to check that the right equipment is being carried by engineers.

8. Key support functions

Inspectors will want to know if your business has a process for informing Gas Safe Register of ‘unregistered/illegal’ gas work and whether there is a defined policy for dealing with reports of gas escapes or suspected fumes from appliances.

They will also want to know if complaints are monitored for trends, and whether these are analysed regularly.

9. Customer Care

Distributors will be asked if they have a customer complaints policy that embraces gas safety issues.

Officials will need to see the steps that the company has in place to ensure that all gas safety-related complaints are vetted by a ‘technically competent’ person for their severity.

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