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Get Clued Up about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!
Posted by David Cant on October 3, 2015

Get Clued Up about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

Carbon Monoxide SafetyDid you know that there are at least 12 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning?

Not to mention the number of people who find themselves getting ill from this silent threat!

The scariest thing about carbon monoxide though? It’s not the gas itself – it’s the lack of knowledge about it!

A recent case about a Staffordshire family highlights just how serious the consequences of not being properly clued up can be. Luckily, this sharp-thinking family decided to get a carbon monoxide detector when they started to get ill – but any qualified gas engineer should have spotted the warning signs long before.

It was something the HSE investigators agreed with, landing the fitter in question with 240 hours of community service to make up for his oversight.

So what went wrong – and what should you be keeping an eye out for?

Perform regular checks

Regular checks of all gas appliances are essential – especially if the property is rented and has been empty for a while. You don’t know what new problems may have cropped up while the place hasn’t been inhabited!

That was the case with this Staffordshire family. While their engineer did carry out a gas safety certificate exam, he just didn’t spot the glaring defects that should have stood out a mile to him!

Which made his safety certificate a little suspect – not to mention dangerous!

Look for defects

There were a couple of really questionable defects that the engineer really should have looked at properly in this case.

First off – check out the first bend in the flue. Did you know that it’s not supposed to be more than 500mm above the top of the boiler?

In this case, it was right on top of it! Definitely not good news.

Don’t forget to check the end of the flue too. Look out for signs of condensation or staining – if you can see these, then there’s a good likelihood you have a serious issue to resolve pretty quickly.

Stay alert to the warning signs

The fitter at this Staffordshire home didn’t just pop down on the odd occasion – he’d actually been in several times!

Which makes you wonder why he didn’t spot the obvious signs of potential carbon monoxide emission.

So what are they?

Check the colour of flames – they should be blue, not orange or yellow. You should also look out for any build up of soot or stains around appliances – this could be a sign that the fuel is not burning properly. Another consequence of this is that the pilot light often blows out – if this is a regular thing, don’t overlook it!

Your takeaway points

  • make sure you carry out regular safety checks – and don’t cut corners
  • are there potential defects or problems? Fix them – don’t overlook them
  • keep an eye out for potential carbon monoxide warning signs – build up of soot, condensation and blown out pilot lights are all pretty strong indicators

Do you work with gas? How do you keep on top of carbon monoxide safety? Let us know!


Director at Veritas Consulting. 20+ years as a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. A trusted, risk savvy portfolio professional who is fluent in practical advice and an effective workplace solutionist.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Blog


  1. David Foat
    April 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    First bend not less than 500 mm?

    • April 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Any chance you could explain a bit more please.

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