28 March 2013
The landlord of a Blackburn business unit has been found guilty of a health and safety offence after two people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a dangerous gas heater.
The two employees at a blinds showroom on Whalley New Road, Blackburn were taken to hospital on 8 December 2010 after suffering from headaches and nausea for several months.
Tests showed both men had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, and one had to be kept in overnight and treated with oxygen.
The building’s landlord, Mohammed Asghar, 46, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had failed to ensure the gas heater he provided at the showroom was safe.
During a two-day trial, Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard that the men became concerned they might have been exposed to carbon monoxide when they searched their symptoms on the internet.
The level of carbon monoxide in one of the worker’s blood was more than three times the normal level, despite being measured at the hospital hours after he was last exposed to the gas.
The gas heater was found to be immediately dangerous when a National Grid engineer visited the showroom, and the heater was taken out of use. A new heating system has since been installed.
Mohammed Asghar, of Whalley New Road in Blackburn, was found guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after he failed to ensure the gas heater was safe. He was fined £750 and ordered to pay £750 in costs on 28 March 2013.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:
"The workers were fortunate that the carbon monoxide did not rise to a fatal level. Customers were also potentially put at risk when they visited the showroom.
"Landlords need to make sure that equipment they provide for their tenants is adequately maintained and safe to use. Mr Asghar provided the gas heater at the showroom and therefore should have made sure it was safe.
"Landlords of commercial properties should make sure that contracts clearly state who is responsible for maintaining gas boilers and appliances so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities."
Homeowners and landlords can find a registered gas engineer, or check someone is registered, by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
Notes to editors
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Section 4(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of each person who has, to any extent, control of premises…to take such measures as it is reasonable for a person in his position to take to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the premises…and any plant or substance in the premises or, as the case may be, provided for use there, is or are safe and without risks to health."