Workers exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide

Workers exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO2)

A Construction firm was sentenced for safety breaches after workers were exposed to carbon monoxide and other substances hazardous to health.

The workers were working inside an enclosed area, the space was not ventilated and there was a build-up of carbon monoxide, which lead to one worker being hospitalized.

The case was heard by Hull Magistrates court. Westlands Construction Ltd from Sproatley, Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £16,000 with £847.30 costs.

In October 2015, the workers were using a petrol powered saw to cut out an existing concrete floor at a fish factory in Hull. In order to protect the food factory surfaces from dust, they constructed a sealed enclosure from timber and polythene. it was this sealed enclosure that lead to the endangerment of the worker's lives.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had not planned the work or thought through the dangers an un-ventilated tent would cause. The company should have used a system of dust suppression and local exhaust ventilation (LEV) together with appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to prevent or reduce exposure to harmful dust.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jennifer Elsegood commented: "Petrol driven saws should not be used in a confined space because of the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous it has no smell and workers can be overcome by the fumes before they realise they have been effected – making it extremely dangerous. This is why it is known as the silent killer."

To read the full article by the Health and Safety Executive, find it here on HSE's website, dated 20 January 2017.