Real-life H&S incidents

Self-employed plumber sentenced for unsafe gas work

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
9th June 2017

A self-employed gas engineer has been fined after two residents at a house in Pontardulais ended up in hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Swansea Magistrates Court heard that 67-year-old Philip Cannon carried out unsafe gas work on a boiler in the property on 23 January 2015. The boiler was emitting extremely high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO). All three people present in the property, including Mr Cannon himself, were later treated in hospital for CO poisoning.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Gas Safe Register (GSR) found that the engineer had failed to prevent the gas leak after working on the boiler. He allowed the boiler to operate in an unsafe manner and neglected to run the required tests which would have immediately detected the CO. 

Philip Cannon of Neath Road, Pontardawe pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Section 33 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was fined £933 and ordered to pay costs of £4301.66. 

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Simon Breen said:

“Mr Cannon’s failings in this case were highly traumatic for those involved and entirely avoidable.”

Phoenix comments: 

This is an appalling case in which a plumber has endangered the occupants' lives. More than 200 people go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning every year, leading to around 50 deaths. No wonder we find ourselves reporting on cases of carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty, unserviced or incorrectly maintained boilers every month. It is essential that boilers are serviced annually and that all work is conducted by an engineer on the Gas Safe Register - the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. Carbon monoxide monitors should always be installed, because the gas has no smell or taste, so occupants can be unaware they are breathing it in. It enters the bloodstream and mixes with the haemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing the blood from carrying oxygen around the body. Lack of oxygen causes cells and tissue to fail and die.