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Vulnerability awareness key focus for 2019 Gas Safety Week

Awareness campaign set to run from 16 to 22 September was launched in parliament this week with the aim to tackle misconceptions about types of people that are susceptible to CO poisoning

A launch event for this year’s upcoming Gas Safety Week campaign was held yesterday (11 September) at the Houses of Parliament with organisers highlighting a need to challenge basic assumptions held by the general public about current dangers.

Complexities in identifying those most vulnerable to domestic issues around gas safety, while also building awareness of potential danger signs of issues such as carbon monoxide poisoning, were among the major themes for the latest campaign that will run this year between 16 - 22 September.

Parliament is currently suspended as part of a controversial prorogation that means both the Commons and Lords – unless overturned by the Supreme Court – will not reconvene until the middle of October. However, business must go on for health and safety campaign groups.

As such, the Houses of Parliament continued this week to hold several health and safety-focused alongside the Gas Safety Week launch. This included a separate function to celebrate UK work around Leukaemia care and detection.

From the perspective of Gas Safety Week, organisers highlighted the everyday threats and health concerns posed by practices such as incomplete or poor gas work and how industry, care professionals and concerned friends can all play a vital role to ensure vulnerable people are protected.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of the Gas Safe Register, said the campaign remained a vitally important focus to help build national understanding about the complex interlinked challenges that impact the safety of gas appliances in homes and how leaks can be detected.

Mr Samuel said this year’s campaign was intended to challenge assumptions about the types of people that may be more vulnerable to bad industry practice and the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

He said, “For example, not all older people are vulnerable, and not vulnerable people are older. It is quite a diverse landscape.”

Part of the Gas Safety Week campaign will also involve reaching out to different sections of the industry, from installers and small companies, to major manufacturers and even healthcare providers to build up expertise in where particular problem areas exist for industry.

Mr Samuel said that building as broad an industry and public sector consensus as possible on the different types of vulnerability to poor gas safety was often overlooked.

He said, “Even though there are so many definitions of vulnerability and a multitude of factors to consider, I think it seems fair to say that a recurring element here is a lack of awareness. Not just of the risk from unsafe gas installations, but also an inherent lack of awareness of the support that may be out there for people.”

Gordon Lishman, chair of the Gas Safe Charity, also spoke during the event to outline the organisation’s work over the last year to help fund help financially support thousands of projects to tackle issues around the country.

This has also involved hosting at least 25 workshops during 2019 to build up how family members, ‘trusted intermediaries’ and care givers can better determine or understand issues in homes that could lead to CO poisoning or other potentially harmful or even fatal incidents.

Alongside e-learning portals, and information videos in sign language, Mr Lishman said that work was also underway to partner with the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives to expand awareness and include practice nurses into helping identify and understand possible gas safety issues.

He added, “We are looking to work with the industry, and in one case we are already doing that to help in their training. I am talking to one of the tutors on the local course for gas engineers at one of my local colleges in Blackburn about how this sort of material can be built into that process.”

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