Gas appliances: third party testing and the dangers of going without

I read recently that in 2015, every day four people attended A & E departments as a result of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, totalling 1,460 over a year, with a huge 87% requiring treatment.

Often described as a silent killer, carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas without smell or taste, produced when appliances don’t burn fully. When inhaled it can make you extremely unwell and can be fatal if you are exposed to high levels.

The dangers of unsafe appliances and shocking stats like these demonstrate just why safety testing and certification is so important.

When placing appliances on the EU market, a piece of legislation known as the Gas Appliances Directive requires them to be certified by a third party, such as BSI, appointed by a European government.

This includes all gas fired appliances which are used for:

  • Domestic and commercial cooking appliances
  • Domestic and commercial heating and hot water heaters
  • Domestic fires and space heaters
  • Outdoor camping
  • Laundry products

Once certified, manufactures can place the CE mark and a notified body number, on the appliances indicating they comply with the Gas Appliances Directive and all other appropriate legislation – typically the Low Voltage Directive and Electromagnetic Compatibility Directives.

Third party testing ensures appliances meet required legislation and will operate as intended on the available distributed gas, without causing harm to people, animals or property. It also requires that serial production is reviewed on an annual basis to check it remains identical to the product design approved at the type testing/certification. This helps to ensure the continued safety of appliances placed on the market.

Gas appliances which have not been certified (as required by legislation) may not operate as intended on the distributed gas. This can lead to a wide range of safety incidents ranging from explosions, fires, burns and, as we have already seen, carbon monoxide poisoning.

BSI is appointed as a notified body by the UK government for a number of European directives and offer manufacturers certification to a wide range of UKAS accredited standards.

BSI also offer testing and certification services including new product development, pre-assessment, gap analysis, batch testing and full compliance testing.

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Author: Robert Floyd 

Certification Manager