Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Housing company fined over technical breach

After the death of a resident due to carbon monoxide poisoning, a Sunderland based housing company have been found guilty of failing to properly maintain his coal fire.

Yesterday Gentoo Group, formerly known as Sunderland Housing Company Ltd were fined £40,000 with £25,000 costs after they breached regulation 5 (1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

80-year-old George Rutherford had resided at the property for many years but died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007. While a coroner recorded his death as accidental, the judge today noted that the company’s negligence was a ‘not insignificant’ factor in his demise.

This case should serve as a warning to other landlords, to ensure that solid fuel appliances in properties occupied by tenants are regularly maintained.

After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Bruno Porter said: “The risk of dying from carbon monoxide exposure caused by a solid fuel appliance is estimated to be up to ten times higher than that from a gas appliance but the risks are generally not as well known.”

“As with gas appliances, burning solid fuel such as wood, coal or smokeless fuels, poses no danger as long as certain simple precautions are taken.”

Andrew Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of Gentoo Group said: “This is a technical breach of Section 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in respect of an incident four years ago. Excellent health and safety standards are paramount to Gentoo and we have therefore continued to monitor and improve our systems accordingly.

“We welcome the fact that the court has accepted that the company is in no way responsible for Mr Rutherford’s death, and wish to take this opportunity to send our condolences to his family.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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