A housing company and its contractor have been prosecuted after the builder capped chimneys used as flues for working gas boilers and fires.
The properties in Devon and Cornwall were based at Jubilee Terrace in Bodmin and Coronation Road in Callington. After the chimneys at both properties were capped, gases from the boiler and fires had no means of escaping and could have built up inside the properties, causing carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
The work had been inspected by the housing company’s own gas engineers after it was completed – they declared the properties immediately dangerous and likely to cause an immediate risk to life.
Both the housing company and the builder were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
On Friday, 11 September at Bodmin County Court, housing provider Cornwall Housing Ltd of Higher Tenant Road in Wadebridge pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The company was fined £6,660 and ordered to pay £697 in costs.
The housing company’s contractor, Barry Shipton of Down Road in Tavistock pleaded guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
He was fined a total of £2,664 and ordered to pay £692 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said:
“Although no-one was hurt, this was an incredibly dangerous situation, where gas appliances could have pumped poisonous and potentially fatal gasses into the loft space of a home instead of to outside the property.
“Whenever a chimney is removed or capped, careful checks should be taken to ensure that the chimney is not being used and cannot be used in the future.
“Proper work instruction and control by Cornwall Housing Ltd and then proper on-site enquiries by Barry Shipton would have prevented this dangerous situation from arising – and putting the lives of their tenants at risk.”
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