Expert urges gas safety awareness

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Expert urges gas safety awareness

23rd January 2012

Following a recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution of a landlord who failed to maintain a gas fire safely within one of his properties, landlords and tenants alike are being urged to check the condition of their gas boilers.

Matthew Claxson, a health and safety expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: “In light of this recent HSE prosecution, it is crucial that landlords are aware of the legal responsibilities they have for the safety of their tenants and that tenants in turn, are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

After a tenant complained to Pembrokeshire County Council environmental health officers of cold and damp conditions at a property he was renting, council officers served the man’s landlord an Improvements Notice under the Housing Act and reported their concerns over the property’s gas appliances to the HSE.

An HSE investigation discovered the landlord had failed to properly maintain his gas appliances in a safe condition. Furthermore, he was found to have failed to ensure his appliances had received their annual safety check for six consecutive years.

After the Tenby man pleaded guilty to breaching gas safety regulations, he was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 at Haverfordwest Magistrate’s Court. He was told he was extremely lucky no harm had come to his tenants who in turn, were urged to attend hospital after a reading at the property indicated a high presence of carbon monoxide.

“Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas that can be very hard to detect without proper instruments as it is both odourless and tasteless,” said Matthew, a partner at the firm. “If inhaled, it can quickly enter the bloodstream and affect breathing causing, drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma and even death.”

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are legally responsible to ensure their boilers are maintained and checked by registered engineers every 12 months. In addition, safety records must be provided to new tenants before they move in and to existing tenants within 28 days of checks being completed.

“In the current economic climate when more and more people are renting out their properties it is crucial that landlords recognise their legal duty and ensure their gas appliances are maintained in a safe condition,” said Matthew. “Faulty boilers, gas leaks and carbon monoxide are all obviously highly dangerous and tenants must be aware of signs that indicate a boiler might be faulty. Rooms housing boilers must be properly ventilated and both landlords and tenants need to bear in mind that carbon monoxide detectors are only ever warning devices and must never be substituted for regular maintenance and checks conducted by properly trained and certified ‘Gas Safe’ engineers.”

How can Fentons help?

If you or a family member has suffered an injury as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Read more – HSE