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Gloucester firm fined after elderly tenant put at risk from dangerous gas heater

Date:
17 August 2015

A Gloucester firm has been sentenced for safety failings after refurbishment work on her home left an elderly tenant at risk from a dangerous gas heater.

The woman’s home in Coral Close, Holmleigh, was one of 67 properties that had been refurbished in 2012 as part of a large project undertaken by Mears Ltd for a social housing landlord.

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard today (17 August) that two Gas Safe engineers called at the house in August 2013 to carry out a routine annual service of the gas appliances. The court was told that the engineers found the gas-powered warn air unit at the property had been left in a dangerous condition as a result of the refurbishment work carried out.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that essential combustion ventilation required for the gas power unit had been cladded over and the flue had been removed and the roof fitted over the top, leaving it to discharge into the loft.

The court was told that no blood tests had been taken from the elderly tenant, but it could not be ruled out that she was not exposed to significant carbon monoxide levels as she had suffered from numerous health problems in 2013.

Mears Ltd, of Montpellier Court, Gloucester Business Park, Brockworth, Gloucester, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3587 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Caroline Bird, said:

“The risks from carbon monoxide poisoning are well known. It is clearly unacceptable to carry out any refurbishment work on a property that directly affects the safety of a gas appliance without first taking the necessary steps to ensure the appliance can be continued to be used safely.

“In this case, they did not just make one error in removing the entirety of the combustion ventilation, they then went on to remove the flue terminal when replacing the roof, leaving the live flue terminal discharging dangerous products of combustion into the loft.

“As principal contractors for this refurbishment project, Mears Ltd should have ensured the implications of any work were properly considered and managed. Mears Ltd’s failings put the lives of the tenant and roofers working on the site at risk.”

For more information about health and safety issues relating to gas, log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/index.htm

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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 
  2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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