The subscription-based body says it is “by installers for installers”. Charging members £25 a year, it is open to all registered gas engineers, and those who have close links with the industry. It is free to try for 10 weeks and is looking for more members to sign up, get involved and make their views known. The organisation says it is developing policy in areas such as pricing of parts, training, apprenticeships, cancellation of contracts and ‘last man on the job liability’.

A key bugbear for OPGO founding members is the ACS system, which they claim is sliced up into too many segments. The group wants to see more focus on continuous professional development ‘a couple of days a year’, than on five-yearly assessments.

Training officer Barry Matthews is a long-standing member of the Gas Industry Liaison Group, which meets four times a year and tackles issues surrounding the ACS. He believes assessments should be replaced with more frequent training. “Instead of being assessed on what we already know, we need to be properly informed of changing legislation, regulations and technical issues in what is increasingly becoming a fast-moving industry,” he said.

Member Geoff Giltrap, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the industry, says he wonders whether the cost of ACS is justified in relation to what he claims is a “lack of improvement in overall gas safety and standards”.

OPGO aspires to feel more like a social networking group than a trade association, says chairman Wim Rutjes. “We want to be a grass-roots organisation that is accessible to all, using new technology to break down barriers between those on the tools and those in charge.”

Stressing the ‘democratic and representative nature of OPGO’, secretary and website coordinator Martin Kelsen says its ambition is to “grow and develop to genuinely give the sole trader and small business a voice in the industry that reflects our numbers”.

The website will eventually allow members to create projects, and share information that will ultimately add value to membership. www.opgo.co.uk