Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), two partners in a home improvement company have been fined after building work at a house left a woman and her foster children exposed to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
P Thomas and J Building and Home Improvement Specialists was run by Janusz Wojcik and Phillip Thomas. The firm was contracted to carry out loft conversion work at a property in Bettws, near Newport, on behalf of Newport City Council in November 2010.
As part of the improvement work the company had to replace a flue from the gas fire, which they left in an ‘immediately dangerous’ condition with the potentially lethal fumes escaping into the loft space.
On 25 September, in a prosecution brought by the HSE, Cardiff Crown Court heard that the householder had agreed to modifications to her home with a grant from the council to accommodate foster children.
The householder, who lives at her home with four adolescents, had concerns about the quality of the work carried out by the company, and found that there were faults with the plumbing system. Gas Safe Register, who sent an officer to investigate, found that the flue from the gas fire had been removed from just below the level of the loft, allowing poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the loft space. It was classified as ‘immediately dangerous’.
The HSE investigation found that the partnership did not obtain advice from a Gas Safe registered engineer before the chimney and flue were removed. The gas fire was still connected and used during the winter resulting in potentially deadly carbon monoxide gas building-up in the loft space.
Mr Wojcik and Mr Thomas both pleaded guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations and were fined £1,500 each.