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Report analyses UK CO poisoning incidents

The Gas Safety Trust has published the eighteenth annual Downstream Incident Data Report.

Prepared by Downstream Gas, the report is an analysis of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents in Great Britain associated with the use of mains natural gas and piped Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the home.

Since 2011, information has also been collected concerning CO incidents associated with the domestic use of solid fuel and oil. The report covers the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

This year 29 incidents were reported by investigators to have involved the use of domestic mains natural gas or piped LPG and resulted in 58 casualties (non-fatal) and three fatalities.

These numbers are very similar to those reported in the last two years (2011/12 and 2012/13) and represent a significant reduction from the 21 to 24 fatalities and 70 to 104 incidents reported annually during the period 1996 to 2000.

The number of non-fatal casualties has fallen from 62 last year to 58 this year.

Two fatalities resulted from one incident involving a free-standing cooker with a further fatality caused as a consequence of using a floor-standing non-condensing central heating boiler.

This year the third lowest number of fatalities was recorded since detailed records began in 1996 within the mains natural gas and piped LPG sectors and maintains a continuing trend of fewer fatalities since the early 2000s.

An evaluation of CO incidents involving room sealed installations has revealed that flue related issues tend to be the predominant cause.

This indicates that, even for appliance types considered to be of relative safe design, regular flue maintenance is important.

The double fatality involving the use of a gas cooker is the latest in a series of incidents involving this appliance type that have resulted in personal injury over a number of years.

This year, a significant number of incidents involving space heaters (gas fires) were caused by debris blocking the flue. This demonstrates the importance of regularly maintaining such installations to reduce the associated safety risk.

GST chair Chris Bielby said: “The 2013/14 annual DIDR report demonstrates a continuing trend of improved gas safety in the mains natural gas and piped LPG sectors. I am delighted to see the reduced number of fatalities and injuries, but urge the industry not to be complacent. 

“There is no doubt that we need to remain vigilant to ensure this trend continues and factors such as operative competence, having a CO alarm and regularly servicing and maintaining of appliances are essential in that respect.”

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