We all hope that professional companies, that businesses who claim to be experts in their field, always know what they are doing. Not only to make sure that they leave us with the best results possible for the work that they undertake, but also that everything is safe and that there is no risk to us or the wider public.
With this in mind, it comes as a surprise that a recent news story revealed that a UK home building company played a part in exposing the public to serious carbon monoxide fumes.
A hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court discussed how, during December 2014, a number of gas installations found within Hamilton House were either at risk of becoming dangerous, or already immediately dangerous the health of the public. These flats are in Wolverton and it all started from a resident in the flats reporting the smell of gas.
This report was then taken to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who found that the flats were originally built by Willmott Partnership Homes, before carrying out remedial work during 2014. It was during this work, when an external wall was demolished and then re-built, that the company in question also damaged, blocked or remove entirely live flues that were linked to the gas boilers within the building. Therefore, putting the people within the building, the residents at an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
During the hearing, it was decided that Wilmott Partnership Homes, who had reported profits of £18million during 2017, were guilty of not ensuring that the system of work was adequate to manage the risks of working around the live gas flues.
Fined £1.25million plus court costs
It seemed that Wilmott themselves also understood the issues and the responsibility that they had within the situation, and therefore pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In doing so, and with the hearing deciding that they were also at fault, they were then charged a fine of £1.25million and also then charged another £23,972.33 in costs.
After the hearing HSE confirmed that any risks that relate to gas installations should be managed during any work, including refurbishment. They highlighted the fact that the entire incident, including the hearing and the fine, could have been avoided if the company in question had just ensured that there was a safe isolation system in place for the live boilers.
Hopefully this hearing and the outcome has highlighted to other building companies that the safety of those who live within the buildings that they work on should always be a focus, no matter the work that they carry out.