Suffolk gas engineer handed 18 week suspended prison sentence after fumes from incorrectly serviced gas-fired heater leaves tenant unconscious
The Gas Safe registered engineer from Ipswich, Greg Ranson, 27, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) following safety failings which led to the leak of the poisonous gas.
Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard that Ranson had been hired to service a gas-fired, warm air heater at a ground floor flat in Sproughton in April 2013 before William Tumilty, 59, moved into the premises in May.
As the weather was mild, the heating system was not turned on until November 2013. However, once the heater was operating, Mr Tumilty immediately fell ill, and did so again when the heating was used the next day.
On the third day, the heating came on automatically at 4pm and at about 7pm Mr Tumilty collapsed unconscious in the hallway. He regained consciousness at 7.45am the next day. Hospital tests confirmed he had been poisoned by carbon monoxide.
The occupants of a maisonette directly above the flat – a young couple with a two year-old child – were also affected by the potentially lethal fumes and required hospital treatment.
HSE’s investigation established that the source of the carbon monoxide was the gas-fired heater. Examination revealed the heat exchanger assembly had been blocked by a fine dust which was preventing the harmful byproducts of combustion escaping safely up the flue. The heat exchanger should have been inspected and cleaned during the service undertaken by Ranson but did not appear to have been cleaned for several years.
Ranson, trading as Ranson Plumbing and Heating, of Downing Close, Ipswich, was given an 18 weeks’ prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay compensation totalling £1,500 to three victims, as well as costs of £813 after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health & Safety at W
Work Act 1974.
“Fortunately cases like this are rare but they illustrate the care and diligence required on the part of qualified gas engineers to ensure gas-fired appliances are safe to use,” stated Anthony Brookes, Inspector, HSE. “People can die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, and, by his negligence, Ranson could have caused the death of Mr Tumilty and his neighbours.”
Caption Carbon monoxide poisoning can have an immediate impact and leave people in a life threatening situation.