Carbon Monoxide – Be aware (and get an alarm)
Robert Swanney, Digby Brown Partner and Head of the Brain and Spinal Injuries Department
A number of cases in recent months have highlighted the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is estimated that 17 people have died in Scotland from carbon monoxide poisoning since 2008, with another 28 requiring hospital treatment in the same period.
Carbon monoxide has no colour, taste or smell. The only effective way of detecting it is with a Carbon Monoxide alarm. Alarms are available from £15 and can be bought from high street retailers, supermarkets, DIY suppliers and energy suppliers.
Research published by the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! Campaign suggested that only just over half of people in Scotland have a Carbon Monoxide alarm.
The research found that only one in five people know that Carbon Monoxide can prove fatal. Exposure to even low levels over a period of time can cause significant health damage, including brain injury.
Where to be aware
We all need to be aware of the risk carbon monoxide can pose in our homes, workplaces or when we are on holiday.
In the home, all fuel-burning appliances in the home can produce carbon monoxide and need to be serviced every year by a registered and fully-qualified engineer.
All employers should carry out full risk assessments on carbon monoxide in the workplace and take action to address any risk that is identified. Defective equipment and machinery is the biggest cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace so air conditioning, ventilation, exhaust systems etc all need to be properly installed, maintained and serviced.
It can be easy to forget to be aware of risks when we are on holiday and staying in unfamiliar accommodation. Hotels, holiday homes, caravans, tents with gas stoves should all carbon monoxide alarms should be installed as standard and information available on when boilers and other equipment was installed and last serviced.
Please click here for a more detailed description of the causes and symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoining.
Digby Brown has acted for a number of people who have been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the negligence of others in failing to install and maintain appliances in their home, workplaces or holiday accommodation.
In one tragic case, Digby Brown acted for the widow and children of a man who tragically died from carbon monoxide poisoning after staying in a caravan which had a defective ventilation system.
The caravan owner’s insurance company strenuously denied they were at fault throughout the case. Digby Brown recommended this case to go to court as a jury trial, which was awarded. The case was settled shortly thereafter for a six figure sum.
Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! is the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide.
The Health and Safety Executive website has a section on Carbon Monoxide, including Frequently Asked Questions and advice on making sure your household appliances are operating safely.
Robert Swanney is a Litigation Partner with Digby Brown Solicitors. He has over 40 years experience in Pursuer’s personal injury claims. Robert has extensive experience representing people affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, including acting as Guardian for individuals whose lives have been affected in this way.