Council fined after putting life at risk

SP57023 Chesterfield Town Hall
SP57023 Chesterfield Town Hall

Chesterfield Borough Council has been fined almost £20,000 for putting a tenant at risk of potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against the authority after carbon monoxide fed back into a council house on Stand Road, Newbold.

The authority arranged for the property’s chimney stack to be removed and capped after a roofing contractor advised it was at risk of collapsing.

However, the stack contained the flue for a gas fire and boiler.

After it had been removed and capped, carbon monoxide was unable to escape the house – so the dangerous gas fed back into the property.

This was only discovered six weeks later when the council carried out an annual gas safety check on the property.

The HSE launched an investigation and found that Chesterfield Borough Council was aware the property contained working gas appliances as they were listed on two separate databases – but the authority failed to check them.

In addition, the council failed to inform the contractor about the live gas appliances.

Chesterfield Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,534.

HSE inspector Scott Wynne said: “It was pure luck that the tenant did not suffer any serious effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

He added that the tenant might not have “survived to tell the tale” had it not been for warm weather which meant they often had the windows open and only used the gas boiler for hot water, coupled with the timing of the annual gas safety check.

Chesterfield Borough Council said it had changed its policies and procedures for carrying out re-roofing works at tenants’ homes in light of the mistake.

The authority has apologised to the tenant involved.