Sheffield contractor fined after worker CO poisoning incident

A firm from Grimsby has been fined in Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court after three workers suffered carbon monoxide poisoning on a demolition site in November 2009.

The workers, Paul Wainright, Richard McKearnan and Tony Deakin, were working within an asbestos enclosure in Huddersfield along with two other men. After finishing their task, they entered a decontamination unit (DCU) one at a time to complete a three-stage cleansing process. This included disposing of their overalls, showering and washing respiratory equipment, then finishing with a thorough ‘clean’ section before changing into normal clothes.

Two of the five-strong team passed through the DCU without incident, but the final three workers quickly became nauseous and dizzy within the unit. They were rushed to hospital, where it was found that they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

It was later found that the boiler used to provide hot water for the DCU showers had been poorly maintained, leading to the emission of poisonous gases.

Although the men were quickly treated and released from hospital, the incident could have been a lot worse. As a reflection of this, the owner of the DCU, Newlincs Services Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and fined £5,000 plus £3,580 in court costs.
This case sets an important example for all companies, particularly those in high-risk industries, warning them to make health and safety training a priority.