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Report questions legality of CO alarm test advice

A report compiled by Pannone has questioned the testing of carbon monoxide sensors within CO alarms through the use of cigarettes and joss sticks.

The research covered housing association and council properties, rented accommodation and public buildings.

It states that the prohibition of smoking in workplaces has been banned since July 2007 under the Health Act 2006.

The regulations mainly apply to public buildings and others with communal areas, says Pannone.

While other domestic premises are not covered by the above legislation, where carbon monoxide alarms may need to be installed, it advises that the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) has implications for these areas.

Pannone states that “It is said that an employee is at work throughout the time when he is in the course of employment but not otherwise.

“In relation to premises,” it continues, “they are defined as including ‘any place’, and domestic premises are those which are occupied as a private dwelling. Non domestic premises shall be construed accordingly.”

There are further requirements within Section 2 and Section 3 HSWA covering the duty to ensure health and safety of employees and limitation of risks to non-employees posed by employment undertakings.

Combined with advice from the Health and Safety Executive, concerning smoking policies and protecting others from tobacco smoke, Pannone states that: “Arguably this identifies tobacco smoke as a risk which HSWA addresses through Sections 2 and 3.”

It further says employers should be concerned about recommending the use of cigarettes to employees to test carbon monoxide alarms.

Whilst these will only resulted in limited exposure for members of the public, this could be eradicated through the use of different testing methods.

The report continues that while the position regarding to the use of joss sticks is less well known in Western Europe, it refers to a number of recent studies that link increased cancer rates with exposure to incense.

Regardless of the health risks, the report concludes that anyone using cigarettes in premises where smoking is prohibited by statute is committing a criminal offence under the smoke-free regulations.

Employers encouraging their employees to use this method may also be committing an offence, says Pannone.

The use of joss sticks is not illegal, however, though the report says there may be implications under the HSWA and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations.


The legality of using cigarettes and joss stocks has been questioned by the Pannone report

Those lighting cigarettes in some premises may be committing a criminal offence under smoke-free regulations

The use of joss sticks is not illegal, although HSWA and COSHH regulations should be considered, says the report

The Pannone study also refers to the Kiwa report, which also questions the use of cigarettes and “incense sticks” to test carbon monoxide alarms

The Pannone report was commissioned by Gas Safe Europe

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