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Builder fined £15,000 after carbon monoxide death

A builder has pleaded guilty to a contravention of Sections 3 and 33 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Haddington Sheriff Court, and was fined £15,000.

The builder had been contracted to rebuild the chimney on a property in Gifford but failed to ensure that it was fully cleared of any debris and masonry materials that had fallen in. The chimney was therefore still blocked when the family who lived there used the fire in the living room.

The blockage impeded the combustion process of the solid fuel fireplace, and caused the fumes from the fireplace to build up, causing an accumulation of carbon monoxide to which the three occupants of the house were exposed. A 60-year-old woman died as a result of the exposure.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

"This case demonstrates yet again the importance of employers and contractors being aware of the risks not only to their own employees, but to all of those who may be affected by the work they carry out.

"If the builder had taken the simple steps necessary to identify the risks associated with his work and acted upon them, Mrs Ross would not have lost her life in an entirely avoidable incident.”

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