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CARBON MONOXIDE INCIDENT DEMOLITION SITE PROSECUTION

Three workman affected by CO fumes in asbestos decontamination unit

Newlincs Services Ltd has been prosecuted after a poorly maintained gas boiler emitted CO fumes into an asbestos decontamination unit (DCU) in 2009.

Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court heard the workers would begin at the ‘dirty end’ of the DCU and dispose of overalls, enter a second stage including showers and washing of their respiratory equipment, before the final ‘clean’ section to finish and change into normal clothes.

The first two workers passed through each of the stages successfully but the next three men were nearly overcome by dizziness and nausea. All three were sent to hospital where tests showed they had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. The men were released later the same day.

The DCU used a gas boiler to provide hot water for the shower. HSE tests on the boiler showed poor maintenance caused the boiler to pump out high levels of carbon monoxide. In addition, a door seal and lock between the boiler compartment and ‘clean’ sections of the unit were damaged, leading to CO being drawn into the clean end.

Essential than appliances maintained on regular basis

Newlincs Services Ltd, of Dudley Street, Grimsby, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,580 in costs.

Inspector David Stewart, who investigated the case for the HSE, said:

“It is essential that any appliances such as gas boilers and heaters, which can generate this gas, are maintained on a regular basis to ensure they are operating efficiently and safely.

Even though these three men spent a relatively short time in the affected part of the decontamination unit, they were left seriously nauseous and dizzy. The consequences of longer exposure could have been fatal.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“We know that carbon monoxide poisoning can kill. Know the symptoms, and make sure gas appliances are properly installed and regularly serviced by a suitable qualified and competent Gas Safe registered engineer.”

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