13 February 2015
HIS Energy Fined Record Breaking £500,000 for Carbon Monoxide Death
On 9 October 2012, Mrs Joyce Moore, a pensioner from Middleton, sadly passed away from CO poisoning after her gas boiler’s flue was blocked by a company offering free cavity wall insulation.
Following her death the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) started an investigation as to whether the company, HIS Energy Ltd, had acted in breach of Health & Safety regulations and had properly followed industry standard.
It was found that on that day, three HIS Energy Ltd employees visited Mrs Moore’s and her son’s property where they drilled holes in the walls and blew thousands of insulation beads into the cavity between the outer and inner walls. At the end of the day, the technicians did a regular smoke test of the boiler which failed and indicated that the boiler’s flu was blocked.
Despite the serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, the technicians left the property without switching the boiler off, without placing a label on it, or properly warning Mr Moore and his mother about the fatal risks involved with a faulty boiler. They did not arrange for a gas engineer to attend the property to fix the problem.
Unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of turning on the heating, Mr Moore noticed that it was getting cold in the house and so turned up the heating. He later found his mother dead in her bed, only hours after the technicians had left the property. A post mortem confirmed the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Mr Moore and two paramedics were also hospitalised after tests found high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood.
The criminal hearing took place this week at Manchester Crown Court, and a jury unanimously found the company to be guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and it was fined an outstanding £500,000
The Court made it very clear in its conclusion that the company had fallen well below expected industry standards, and committed a very serious criminal offence. It highlighted in particular that it had failed to provide adequate training for its employees or to take reasonable actions to prevent Mrs Moore’s death.
Commenting on the Hearing at Minshull Street, Mr Moore’s Solicitor, Madelene Holdsworth, an expert in carbon monoxide poisoning claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers said, “Nothing can bring back Joyce Moore, who tragically and needlessly died through the negligence of HIS Energy. It is though a source of comfort and relief to Robert Moore that the HSE has seen fit to prosecute this company and that they have now been brought to account.
“Mr Moore himself was badly affected by carbon monoxide poisoning and was fortunate not to have been killed himself. He has suffered physically and psychologically since the incident and has not been able to return to work in Middleton, where he is a respected accountant.”
Madelene Holdsworth added, “I can confirm that we at Slater and Gordon Lawyers are continuing with a civil action against HIS Energy, which in light of this successful HSE prosecution we now hope to conclude on our client’s behalf as soon as possible.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Lisa Bailey said, “The company knew about the risks from its work but its safety standards fell well below the legal minimum. As a result, an elderly woman has lost her life.”
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