Hoteliers have been urged to ensure their gas appliances have been checked in the past year to avoid potentially poisoning guests and possible imprisonment.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued its warning after two children died as a result of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a faulty boiler at the Louis Corcyra Beach hotel complex on the Greek island of Corfu.
Each year about 30 people die from CO poisoning in the UK. In most cases this is caused by gas equipment having been incorrectly installed or maintained.
Mike Harrison, HSE principal inspector responsible for gas safety, said: "Accommodation providers should remember that gas appliances are not just subject to annual safety checks; they must be in a safe condition all year round."
The HSE and local authorities enforce the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 Act. Failure to follow best-practice advice can lead to prosecution and a £5,000 fine for each offence. If the case is referred to the Crown Court the penalty may result in an unlimited fine and imprisonment.
Jamie Cooper, technical services manager at gas installer body CORGI, recommended catering establishments and hotels introduce a maintenance programme. "Effective routine maintenance normally involves an ongoing programme of regular/periodic examinations, and remedial action, as necessary," he said.
CO is created when gas does not burn properly, causing a poisonous build up that can kill in hours. Dubbed the silent killer, it has no smell. Symptoms of CO poisoning include tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, giddiness and visual problems.
Signs that appliances are spilling CO fumes include yellow or brown stains, pilot lights that frequently blow out or increased condensation inside windows.
Responsibilities and liabilities
- Accommodation providers must ensure gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition.
- Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, at least annually.
- Installation, maintenance and safety checks should be carried out by a CORGI-registered gas installer (www.corgi-safety.com).
- The landlord retains overall responsibility. Management contracts must specify exactly who is responsible for maintenance and safety checks and records should be kept.
- It is an offence to use or allow the use of a gas appliance known to be unsafe.
Source: The Health & Safety Executive
By Chris Druce