Dangerous flue image

£1.25 million fine for contractor whose refurbishment put residents at risk of CO

Willmott Partnership Homes Ltd has today been fined £1.25 million after refurbishment work put residents at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard that, on 11 December 2014, at Hamilton House in Wolverton, a number of gas installations were found to be either Immediately Dangerous or At Risk – following a householder reporting a smell of gas.

An HSE investigation found that Willmott Partnership Homes Ltd, of Letchworth Garden City, had built the flats several years before the incident. In 2014, some remedial work needed to be carried out on an external wall. During the demolition and reconstruction of the wall, many gas boiler chimney/flues were removed, damaged and blocked, exposing the residents to the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Willmott Partnership Homes Ltd, as the principal contractor, had not ensured that an adequate system of work was in place to manage the risks from working around the live flues, the court heard.

Willmott Partnership Homes Ltd of Incknield Way, Letchworth Garden City, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £1.25 million and ordered to pay cost of £23,972.33.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “Risks from gas installations, including those related to carbon monoxide, need to be managed by all during refurbishment. This incident could have been avoided if the company had implemented a safe isolation system for the live boilers.”

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