John Gregory is a professionally qualified gas Technical Consultancy Manager at CORGI Technical Services with over thirty five years’ experience in the gas industry. He has appeared as an Expert Witness for many cases representing gas suppliers and enforcement bodies. CORGI is notified of around 100 suspected Carbon Monoxide (CO) incidents a year, two of which are discussed in this article.
On Good Friday 2012 in central London a non-fatal incident occurred – a CO leak affected a man and his wife, which resulted in both being treated in hospital. The couple lived in a high quality apartment complex. In this case three boilers were located in the basement boiler room, where problems had developed with the gas valve on one of the boilers. This led to an explosion within the boiler which blew the flue pipe off the boiler and allowed products of combustion, containing high levels of carbon monoxide, to escape into the plant room which migrated into the apartment.
Gas suppliers have a legal duty to report all CO incidents to the Health & Safety Executive and undertake a CO incident investigation by a suitably qualified engineer.
John commented: “It is very important that an incident gets reported immediately after it occurs so that an investigation can be carried out before anything is touched. Sadly, it is very common for possible evidence to be disturbed after an incident before an investigation can be carried out. It is in everyone’s interest that an incident is investigated so that lessons can be learned and new procedures put in place if necessary.”
“At CORGI, we carry out investigations for most of the big gas suppliers. As soon as we are notified of an incident we attend the scene, test for CO, identify the source and confirm the cause. We send the report to the Health & Safety Executive and the gas supplier. If the case comes to court then we supply an Expert Witness to give evidence. It is a crucial role in ensuring that gas safety standards are maintained to the highest level.”
CORGI recently investigated an incident in a Sports Centre in Essex which led to several people being taken very ill, although there were no fatalities in this instance. The incident occurred due to a faulty boiler leaking CO into the plant room which was then drawn into the air conditioning system, which pushed the contaminated air around the whole building.
“Following our investigation changes were made to the maintenance practices to ensure this couldn’t happen again. Our role as incident investigators and expert witnesses is crucial to maintaining the highest standards in gas safety in buildings across the UK.”
To read the full CORGI News August 2012 please download a copy here