HSE warning after council prosecution over carbon monoxide incident at school

Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA) on 2008-02-25 13:56:11

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning those with a responsibility to maintain and service gas appliances in schools and other public buildings to ensure that they have a robust gas safety management system in place. This warning comes after Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council was fined a total of 10,000 and ordered to pay costs of 6,830 at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to a charge under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety Work etc. Act 1974 following an incident at Crookhill Primary School, Ryton, on the 14 November 2006. Twenty five pupils and two members of teaching staff were evacuated from a classroom in the school when they were overcome by carbon monoxide. Tests carried out by HSE found that carbon monoxide was being produced by an inadequately maintained boiler in the boiler plant room and leaking into the classroom above. HSE inspector, Michael Bone, said: "This incident resulted from a combination of factors. HSE’s investigation showed that the failure by Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council to operate an effective gas safety management system was the most significant matter." The boiler plant at Crookhill had not been maintained correctly, causing it to produce carbon monoxide which then leaked into the classroom. An effective gas safety management system must include quality control of gas work carried out by competent CORGI registered gas operatives. This enables the employer to ensure that appliances are maintained in line with manufacturers’ instructions and appropriate standards. It also helps the employer to identify specific training needs for gas operatives. "I would urge all organisations with responsibility for managing gas safety to review their procedures and quality systems."

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