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When Every Breath You Take Leads To Fatal Personal Injury

Chemical plant
17th December 2013
A recent case of a contractor who was exposed to ozone gas, which led to an inability to carry on his daily employment, is a reminder of the risk of workplace exposure to toxic, dangerous gases and chemical residues as a result of faulty equipment, leakages, etc.

A 49 year old West Yorkshireman, who was working in an ozone generating room at a soft drinks manufacturing plant, was not informed that ozone was present due to a leak from the generating equipment.

Consequently, the contractor developed an acute irritant asthma, which prematurely ended his working career and also continues to affect his daily quality of life. Frequent asthma attacks are unexpectedly triggered by exposure to any slight irritant including, air fresheners, candles, strong perfumes and deodorants.

The drinks company, who had not conducted a sufficient risk assessment or implemented any kind of maintenance safety procedures, were fined a total of £31,565 including costs, for breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Any enclosed space where equipment involved in the generation of gases or combustion of fuels, at home or at work, represents a lethal risk, which could lead to a major personal injury, with significant implications for legal redress and accident compensation.

While any appliance which is run on gas, petrol or wood has the potential to be a lethal hazard if not properly maintained and /or operated in a well ventilated area, undoubtedly, the most common form of fatal risk is from carbon monoxide poisoning as a direct result of incomplete fuel combustion.

The most well known cause of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when a vehicle engine is being run in an enclosed and poorly ventilated space or the vehicle exhaust system is faulty. However, accident claims cases frequently show evidence of poorly maintained or damaged heating equipment, such as portable generators, cooking and canteen appliances, heaters and furnaces.

Any workplace risk assessment must ensure that all appliances comply with health and safety legislation by not only being in perfect working order but also placed in an environment, which is fully ventilated and kept clear from obstruction. In addition, dedicated detectors for carbon monoxide leakage should also be installed and regularly tested.