Carbon monoxide poisoning costs Cardiff gas firm £13,000

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Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning almost killed an engineer investigating a gas leak after faulty boiler work in an office block, Cardiff Magistrates' Court has heard.

Checking for a possible gas leak at a property on 22 October 2010, John Courtney, 55, from Penarth, was exposed to over 16 times the safe maximum CO level in an 8-hour period.

Unregistered Gas Engineer – Carbon Monoxide Risk

The court heard that 2 employees of a heating and plumbing company, had attended the property the day before to repair an open flue gas boiler, fitting a new gas control valve.

Next day, Mr Courtney attended the site on behalf of his employers, Wales and West Utilities, after reports of a gas smell. On entering the cellar, he suffered the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and was taken to hospital.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution, found the gas valve was wrongly adjusted, allowing the boiler to produce high volumes of carbon monoxide.

Although both defendants were registered with the Gas Safe Register, neither had an appropriate certificate under the Accredited Certification Scheme to confirm competency for work on the commercial gas-fired hot water boiler.

Pleading guilty to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, the company was fined £5,000 in total and ordered to pay £8,000 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Hugh Emment said that Mr Courtney was an experienced engineer. "He had knowledge of the risks from carbon monoxide and training in gas work, but he was still affected by carbon monoxide.

"If one of the building's office workers had unknowingly entered the cellar with no knowledge of gas issues, they could have been quickly overcome by potentially fatal CO fumes.

"It is vital that gas engineers comply with the standards set down by law to prevent deaths from carbon monoxide. Since 2006 there have been three fatalities in the area because of registered gas installers working outside their confirmed competence."

Phillip Gower of Simpson Millar LLP stressed the importance of consumers checking the credentials of gas engineers. "Even if engineers are registered with Gas Safe, this doesn't automatically mean they're qualified to work on every type of gas appliance," Phillip warned. "Every Gas Safe registered engineer should carry an ID card, which lists the sort of work they're qualified for."

The chief executive of Gas Safe Register, Paul Johnston, said: "We always encourage consumers to check the card before getting anyone to work on their gas appliances. You can also check an engineer by phoning us on 0800 408 5500 or looking on our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk."


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