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Chest injury claim: carbon monoxide

Smoke alarm on ceiling
14th May 2014
Accident compensation could be made by the grieving relatives of an elderly man who passed away in his home.

A chest injury claim could become successful after a north-east housing association was been fined after a pensioner died in his home from carbon monoxide poisoning, last week.

Gentoo Group Ltd, of Emperor Way in Sunderland - was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after the 80-year-old man was found dead in his Penshaw home in 2007.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the father-of-two had rented the property in Allendale Crescent for many years, but died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning on 17 June 2007.

An inquest was held in November 2008 when Coroner Derek Winter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The man's landlord, Gentoo Group Ltd was charged with failing to properly maintain the coal fire at his home, and this verdict could form the basis of a personal injury claim.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £40,000 with £25,000 costs at Newcastle Crown Court today (June 30th).

After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Bruno Porter said:

"The judge accepted that although it cannot be said that [the man's] death occurred as a result of the company's breach there was at the very least a 'not insignificant risk of death'.

"The judge added that this was not an isolated breach, on the contrary it appears that this was a 'continuing systemic failure'. However, he bore in mind that the company has a good health and safety record and as an organisation take health and safety and the safety of both employees and all tenants very seriously.

The risk of dying from carbon monoxide exposure caused by a faulty solid fuel appliance is estimated to be up to ten times higher than that from a gas appliance - but the risks are generally not as well known.

"As with gas appliances, burning solid fuel such as wood, coal or smokeless fuels, poses no danger as long as certain simple precautions are taken.

Doing so can mean a chest injury claim might not have to happen, in such tragic circumstances.

The appliance needs to be installed and maintained correctly, and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

He explains: "chimneys must be swept regularly and they must make sure the tenant is capable of, and is actually carrying out, any safety-critical cleaning."

Reported by Fiona Campbell