The Main Outcome of the CO Conference? – That More Needs to be Done!


For Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness Week 2015, a conference was held in Parliament yesterday with leading campaigners on CO including MPs, MEPs, DRs and individuals who have been affected personally.

The Main Outcome of the CO Conference? – That More Needs to be Done!

At Simpson Millar LLP, we often represent clients who have suffered CO poisoning, which is why this week we are taking part in helping to raise awareness of the dangers of CO. Gavin Evans, our Partner and Head of Industrial Disease was pleased to be given the opportunity to take part in yesterday's conference.

Gavin notes the main points to come out of the conference:    
  • The Government and the European Commission are not likely to pass further legislation on CO controls without some lobbying from industry – at present neither Parliament nor the EC is under any great pressure to change the law.    
  • There is a general lack of reliable data about CO poisoning right across Europe (including in the UK) and this also prevents governments from dealing with the issue as without hard figures governments argue that the issue does not merit new legislation.    
  • Thomas Cook, with the help of Sharon Wood, (mother of Christi & Bobby Shepherd, the young children who were killed in Corfu as a result of CO poisoning) have set up a charity: the Safer Tourism Foundation. Initially £1m has been pledged to get things off the ground – they aim to raise awareness and press for better safeguards in resorts abroad to combat the threat of CO poisoning whilst people are on holiday, which is a time when people tend to be more relaxed generally and let their guard down.    
  • 1 in 10 Europeans have been affected by CO poisoning – either directly themselves or a member of their family/a friend.    
  • Toxicology is not taught to trainee doctors in medical school. There is no speciality of toxicology in the UK, compared to other countries.
  • In Scotland the CO regulations apply to all new properties, whether rented or purchased – in England the regulations are far narrower.    
  • In Southern Ireland they are doing prime-time TV adverts to promote awareness of CO poisoning – here in England & Wales people are generally in the dark about CO and how dangerous it is.    
  • HSE recommendations to impose a levy on gas suppliers to fund research and raise awareness & for gas emergency services to carry & use detection equipment have not been adopted – nothing was followed up.

What Do We Think?

We're pleased to see that the hard work of Sharon Wood has paid off in setting up the Safer Tourism Foundation, which will help to protect people from CO poisoning whilst they are on holiday. However, the issues predominantly raised by leading experts and campaigners all point to one thing; that more needs to be done in England and Wales in particular to increase awareness and introduce greater protections.

The Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society website has all the latest news, information and resources if you wish to learn more about CO Safety. Here at Simpson Millar, we hope to see increased protections afforded in England and Wales and at a European level in the future. We're continuing to raise awareness throughout the week. You can join in by sharing our awareness news on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and using the hashtag #COAwarenessWeek.

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