A heavily pregnant woman showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning after a the flue of a gas fire was left blocked by rubble during loft conversion work at a neighbouring property, a court has heard.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that although the work at a semi-detached house in Kirkby, Merseyside, was carried out by Topflite (North West) Ltd over the summer, the gas fire in the lounge next door had not been used until October 31 2013.
Magistrates heard that after spending much of the afternoon and evening in the lounge the woman, who does not want to be named, suffered flu-like symptoms and began vomiting.
The woman, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, had to spend the next day in bed and her also husband felt sick, the court was told.
Suspecting they may have experienced carbon monoxide poisoning the couple called in a Gas Safe-registered firm which found that the fire’s flue, situated in the cavity wall between the two properties, was blocked by rubble, preventing fumes from properly escaping through a roof vent.
‘Work not planned properly’
The firm issued a warning notice to prevent the firm being used and the couple contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), magistrates heard. An HSE inspector then visited the neighbouring property on Lauder Close and found that a steel beam installed in the loft had broken through and caused the flue blockage.
Chorley-based Topflite (North West) Ltd, which trades as Topflite Loft, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £4,000 and ordered to cost of £1,276.
Following the court case HSE inspector Jacqueline Western said it was crucial that building firms carefully considered the risks posed to attached properties when work was being carried out.
She said the job should have been planned properly to ensure that the steel beam was installed without affecting the gas fire’s flue.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: March 3, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown