Councils, ALMOs*, housing associations, and organisations engaged in the servicing and maintenance of gas appliances must provide their heating engineers with manufacturer- and appliance-specific training if they wish to avoid the same fate as Gateshead council.
The warning was issued by Michael Bone, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, after Gateshead Metropolitan Borough council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).
The council was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,830 costs at Gateshead Magistrates Court earlier this week following an incident at
Mr Bone, the HSE inspector in charge of bringing the case to prosecution, said the incident was a result of a combination of factors: the boiler, which had been installed in 1999, had been fitted correctly but the flue hadn’t. “We weren’t able to establish who installed the flue. If we had, we’d have brought a case against that individual or company as well,' he said.
“The heating plant in the school was serviced and maintained yearly by the heating engineers from
“The heating engineer, who was CORGI-registered and nationally-accredited, who carried out that servicing had not under specific appliance training with regards to this specific type of boiler. Therefore, he was unaware of a rather critical part in the valve assembly. Consequently, that valve was missing when he put that boiler back together.
“Also he didn’t have access to the manufacturers’ instructions when he was carrying out the service. As a result, one boiler in particular began to produce large amounts of carbon monoxide. That, in combination with the ineffective flue, led the carbon monoxide to leak back into the school.”
He concluded: “Although the school’s heating plant was maintained and serviced yearly, and there were supporting records, our investigation revealed that on many occasions the forms had been incorrectly filled out. In addition, critical bits of service information had been omitted entirely.”
“We’ve also implemented new processes whereby the yearly testing and maintenance of our heating systems are confirmed in writing. If there is no physical record, our heating engineers will have to re do it.”
He concluded: “We’ve been working closely with CORGI and the HSE to identify what our training requirements are, and our entire team of heating engineers are undergoing manufacturer specific training.”
Arms-length management organisations (ALMOs).