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Gas safety - Carbon monoxide awareness

You can't see it, taste it or smell it but Carbon Monoxide (CO) can kill quickly without warning. According to HSE statistics every year around 7 people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. It can be produced by any fossil fuel based combustion appliance.

There are signs that you can look out for which indicate incomplete combustion is occurring and may result in the production of CO:

  • yellow or orange rather than blue flames (except fuel effect fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)

  • soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances

  • pilot lights that frequently blow out

  • increased condensation inside windows

There is a general duty that every employer owes to its employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take all steps as far as possible to ensure that the workplace and equipment their employees work in are safe and pose no risk to their health. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 place additional duties on employers. Regulation 35 imposes a duty on employers to ensure that the gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition to prevent risk of injury to any person.

If you are a property landlord, you are legally responsible for the safety of your tenants in relation to gas safety. By law you must:

  • Repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in safe condition using a Gas Safe registered engineer

  • Ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue Gas Safe registered engineer

  • Keep a record of each safety check

  • You should also keep your tenants informed about their responsibilities while they are staying in your property

The HSE strongly recommends the use of audible CO alarms as a useful back-up precaution, but they must not be regarded as a substitute for proper installation and maintenance of gas appliances by a Gas Safe registered engineer. CO alarms should comply with European standard EN 50291 and should be installed, checked and serviced in line with the manufacturer's instructions.

For any further information and guidance you may require please contact us here.

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