From July 1st 2012 to June 30th 2013, two British people died and 62 were injured as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning associated with liquid petroleum gas and natural gas in the home, the latest Downstream Incident Report has revealed.
This report, which was prepared by Downstream Gas and funded by the Gas Safety Trust, uncovered a significant reduction in the number of carbon monoxide incidents in the UK’s households. While the period in question saw a total of 29 CO release incidents reported through the Health and Safety Executive’s RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), the years 1996 to 2000 saw between 70 and 104 reportable incidents and between 21 and 24 CO-related deaths.
Of the two cases of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning reported from July 2012 to June 2013, one related to a floor-standing boiler with an open flue that had not seen a gas appliance service for a number of years, and the other was caused by the blockage to a chimney that was connected to a gas fire.
The majority of reported incidents occurred in the private rented sector, and open-flued appliances were also disproportionately represented – people with open-flued boilers appear to be at least four times as likely to be involved in a reportable incident than those with room-sealed boilers, and both fatal incidents involved open-flued gas appliances.
The most commonplace preventable contributory factor in carbon-monoxide-related incidents was a failure for people to arrange annual gas safety checks. Our boiler cover members receive annual gas appliance services as part of their service contract, but many landlords and homeowners seem to be unaware of the importance of these.
The Gas Safety Trust said that a number of strategies could be adopted in order to reduce the number of carbon monoxide incidents even further. These include:
- Obliging operatives to measure warm air units’ and open-flued boilers‘ combustion performance when undertaking Landlord’s Safety Checks
- Promoting annual gas appliance services, or potentially making these mandatory in all properties
- Requiring landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms in their properties and to detail this installation on their Landlord’s Safety Check form
Chairman of the Gas Safety Trust Chris Bielby also called for the government to repeat 2010’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme. This initiative saw 118,000 English households trade in their old heating appliances for safer and more energy-efficient models. He said he is going to write to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Climate Change Amber Rudd MP to arrange a meeting in order to discuss this proposal.
He said the Gas Safety Trust is “very concerned” about the large number of incidents involving open-flued appliances.