Building work in a kitchen with boiler left in a dangerous position

Products of combustion left spilling into family home during building work

A Newcastle construction company director has been given a suspended prison sentence after his work on a home extension left the gas boiler venting products of combustion inside.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Magistrates’ Court heard that a mother and her two children suffered from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning during the building work in April 2018 at their home in Lichfield Avenue. HSE, prosecuting, said David Coulson, from Newcastle upon Tyne, had left the boiler in use during the building work even though the supporting wall to which it was secured was removed and the extension built around it. The boiler was perched on top of a breeze block with the flue venting inside so that products of combustion were entering the home’s living space.

The family and their dog all showed symptoms of CO poisoning, and the children were given oxygen at hospital. The homeowner raised her concerns with Mr Coulson as she could see fumes spilling into the property but he denied that this was the case.

Mr Coulson, director of Coulson Constructions North East Ltd, arranged for the boiler to be moved and the flue routed to outside but this was not carried out by a registered gas engineer. A Gas Safe Register investigations officer found that the installation was At Risk even after the boiler had been moved.

David Coulson of Gofton Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 and Section 20 (2)(j) of the Health and Safety at Work etc.Act 1974. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 24 months, told to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £5,200.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Wilson, said: “Construction work can and must be planned properly to ensure the health and safety of those potentially affected throughout the building project.”

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