It’s Outrageous!

CO-Gas Safety thinks it’s outrageous that recommendations made by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) in 2000 have not been implemented, particularly:-

  • A levy on the gas suppliers (we would prefer the whole fuel industry) to provide funds for publicity about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) and for research. After all most of the gas supply companies are extremely wealthy. CO-Gas Safety has sat on committees to talk about raising publicity since 1997. The problem is the lack of funds, which the wealthy industry fails to provide and the government fails to make a levy mandatory. Please note that £2 per household per year would provide over £44 million to spend on prime time TV warnings and fund research. The BBC receives £140 per household per year!

Please note that the cabinet office is responsible for public information films. Holiday Travel Watch has sent letters to the Cabinet office (first one 31st October 2012) with regard to this asking the cabinet office to put out these warning films..

  • Please note that British Gas made £585 million profit in the first 6 months of 2010.
    See Article: British Gas Sees Profits Raise 96%
  • See also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10784905
  • British Gas made £1093 million in 2012 see https://www.centrica.com/files/reports/2012ar/index.asp?pageid=23
  • Interview by Sam Laidlaw CEO 27.02.13 defending their profit see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21598504 ‘British Gas has reported a rise in profits for 2012 after colder weather led to people using more gas. Profits from its residential energy supply arm rose 11% from a year earlier to £606m. It said gas consumption had risen by 12%.’
  • Radio 4 today programme 27.02.13
    see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10212856/British-Gas-refuses-to-rule-out-higher-energy-bills-as-profits-rise.html
    British Gas refuses to rule out higher energy bills as profits rise  31.07.13
    British Gas profits rose 3pc to £356m in the first half of the year as customers turned up their heating in the cold weather, but the company refused to rule out further price rises.
  • That the gas emergency service has and will use equipment to test for this invisible, silent, odourless, deadly gas, CO.
  • This would enable people to know which appliance, if any is unsafe and how much CO they are likely to have been exposed to.
  • Please note that one of the companies providing part of the gas emergency service, Scotia Gas Networks, have equipped its personnel with Personal Alarm Monitors (PAMs) for CO. We applaud this action and have asked HSE to write to the other emergency service providers to ask them to provide PAMs for their employees but so far HSE has refused to do this. However, we have been assured that all the other emergency service companies are equipping their personnel with PAMs.
  • We think that anyone who works with gas should have a PAM for natural gas and for CO and anything else toxic that they may encounter. Matthew Nixon, a registered gas engineer died of CO from a petrol generator in December 2010. He was aged 22 and had been apprenticed in the gas industry since the age of 16.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told us in April 2005 that these recommendations will not now be implemented.

A review published in January 2007 put all responsibility for raising awareness on CORGI or a CORGI equivalent by requiring interested bodies such as CORGI to apply for a 5 year franchise to register gas installers. See http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/safetyreview.htm The registering body is now the Gas Safe Register run by Capita and has a ten year franchise in Great Britain and Isle of Man granted on 1 April 2009 and also a ten year franchise in Northern Ireland and Guernsey granted on 1 April 2010.

CO-Gas Safety finds it indefensible that a person, who suspects they are being, or has been recently poisoned by CO has no way of obtaining an investigation of appliances in the home or workplace (which will test for CO and may help with medical treatment and/or provide evidence in civil or criminal case) other than by paying about £3,000 and obtaining the services of CORGI Technical Services or the equivalent expert. How can ordinary people pay for this especially one parent families and those on social security? Even if they can pay, most people don’t know how to obtain such an investigation. Even such an investigation will only test appliances for CO and not for other toxins.

We have been informed that about 834 registered gas installers have taken a course called CMDDA1 which qualifies them to undertake tests for carbon monoxide and give amounts of CO if found in parts per million. We are bit sure how much this would cost but surely far less than about £3,000 so we consider that this could be a good first step even if someone was considering a full investigation. However, it seems impossible to obtain a list of those who are qualified under CMDDA1. The Gas Safe Register specifies which firms can undertake fumes investigations but that does not seem to necessarily mean they have a person qualified under CMDDA1. We have urged the Gas Safe Register to deal with this issue urgently as we would like a list of those qualified under CMDDA1.

It seems there is no organisation that is tasked with looking at the problems of CO from a victim’s point of view, other than CO-Gas Safety. Yet CO-Gas Safety is a tiny charity and at the time of writing (August 2013) we have had the last part of our Departement of Health grant, which has not covered our data for the past three to four years. The DoH will only entertain applications for funding for new projects. The main full time worker, Stephanie Trotter, who is a barrister (not practising law at the moment) runs the charity on a voluntary basis and has done so since 1995, aided by other voluntary directors.

Update re applications for funding – August 2013

CO-Gas Safety is applying for funding to continue collecting, collating and publishing our data to various bodies. We applied to the Gas Safe Charity in Autumn 2010 and were refused. We applied again in May 2011 and were told that this would be considered if a statistician could be instructed to examine our data, thankfully at the Gas Safe Charity’s expense. We found it hard to find a statistician who would actually examine the way we collected and collated the data, rather than just compare data because there really isn’t much other data to compare ours with. We eventually found Dr. Craggs who undertook a validation of our data. Dr. Craggs sent an extensive report to the Gas Safe Charity in April 2012. However, although our data was given a good report, again our application for funding for the data was refused although we were given a small grant to purchase a laptop in Spring 2013. We have applied again for funding for our data to the Gas Safe Chairty in August 2013. Meanwhile the charity is suffering from a lack of funds for the data. We applied again to the Gas Safety Trust in May 2014 and were turned down on the basis that the GST wanted to do this itself and be a ‘one stop shop’ for CO.

A great deal of the work of CO-Gas Safety is helping victims and this work provides valuable information that can be used to improve gas safety. This work is an important research tool. A properly funded body should be undertaking this work.

Baroness Finlay has recommended that the data be centrally collected, collated and published. We support this and would like to work with a university to provide further confidence and transparency. However, we have a hugely valuable resource now (going back to 1995), we have improved our methods over the years, we cover all fuels, we try to check every death with the Coroner concerned, we have formulated a form for the Coroners to fill in asking for details such as if a CO alarm was present and we have had our data validated by Dr Craggs twice (most recent in 2014) and we now have transferred paper files onto a new database.. No other body has done this. So going forward, we want our methods used and we wish to keep the contribution of a victim based charity which can spot trends and suggest improvements to save lives (e.g. our awareness course for registered gas installers and many others see http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/trainers_of_gas_installers.html under ‘Trainers of gas installers’ on our website).

Updated 20.10.14