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Insulation firm fined over pensioner’s death from CO

A pensioner from Middleton died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning just hours after the flue on her gas boiler was blocked with cavity wall insulation, a court has heard.

HIS Energy was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following Ms Joyce Moore’s death, which occurred less than five hours after employees left her Middleton Road home.

Manchester Crown Court heard on 13 February 2015 that the Ms Moore’s son had received a cold call from Nationwide Energy Services in September 2012 offering free cavity wall insulation through a scheme subsidised by the energy companies.

The firm, which was featured on the BBC Three series The Call Centre, arranged for its sister company HIS Energy to carry out the work.

On 9 October 2012, three HIS Energy employees visited the property, where they drilled holes through the house bricks before using a machine to blow thousands of insulation beads into the cavity between the outer and inner walls.

When one of the employees checked the boiler, he noticed a pile of insulation beads at the back of it and assumed they had come through a hole in the lining of the chimney.

Ms Moore’s son was advised not to use the boiler, but the company failed to make him aware of the potentially fatal consequences of turning on the heating.

HIS Energy also failed to make sure the boiler was switched off before its employees left the property, failed to leave a warning notice on the boiler or with the homeowner and failed to alert National Grid or a gas engineer, despite this being standard industry guidance.

A post mortem confirmed the cause of death was CO poisoning.

The HSE investigation found HIS Energy did not provide adequate guidance for its employees on what to do if a boiler flue became blocked.

The job packs in the company van contained examples of warning notices, but there were no actual notices that could be given to homeowners or stuck on boilers.

HIS Energy, which has since gone into voluntary liquidation, was found guilty of a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company, formerly of Northern Boulevard in Swansea, was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £24,968.44 in prosecution costs.

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