Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
HSC appeals to consumers to 'tell us what you think'
HSC appeals to consumers to "tell us what you think"
Keywords: Safety, Heating/ventilation
A new consultation exercise by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) on improving both domestic and commercial gas safety is being thrown open to wide public debate.
Around 40 deaths a year are caused by gas accidents in the home, particularly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks, but also fires and explosions. Many more people survive such incidents but suffer serious long-term health effects or injuries.
A new discussion document published today includes a wide range of views that stakeholders and consumers have raised with the Health & Safety Executive's (HSE's) Gas Safety Review Team during initial, informal consultation. These are set out in the document to stimulate debate. Neither the Commission nor HSE have reached any conclusions as to their merits.
The options for change outlined in the discussion document include:
a statutory duty on owner-occupiers (not just landlords of rented property as at present) to maintain their appliances in a safe condition;
action to promote, or require, the installation of CO alarms in domestic premises;
a ban on all DIY goods work;
ideas for a more proactive enforcement policy, using agents;
strengthening of measure against non-registered installers; and
raising funds for safety-related work by means of a levy on gas suppliers.
The formal consultation period will last until 4 February 2000. After consideration of views received, HSC will make recommendations to ministers on the way forward, including any changes it believes to be necessary.
Announcing the formal consultation exercise, Bill Callaghan, HSC Chair, said: "We attach a high priority to gas safety matters, especially to reducing deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. Please - anyone who thinks they can contribute to this debate - do let us have your response. We are eager to hear from ordinary gas consumers as well as the experts.
"It is essential that we end up with an effective and publicly acceptable strategy for the control of domestic gas safety.
"Carbon monoxide is dangerous and it can kill without warning. So we are again urging the public to make sure their gas appliances are safe for this winter - it could save lives."
A special leaflet is being published for domestic gas consumers which focuses on the issues and options for change of particular interest to them.
Bill Callaghan added: "We are also keen to hear from those in the industry - many of whom complain that existing controls place an undue burden on installation businesses - especially small ones. They say this is disproportionate to the risks and to the controls imposed on other industries which also have the potential to affect the health and safety of the public."
Alun Williams, head of HSE's Gas Safety Review Division, said: "Over the next three months the Gas Review Team and I will be getting in touch with key stakeholders, including consumers and their representative. We want this consultation to be as wide as possible, so that when we prepare our final recommendations on the way forward we can be sure that we have heard from all those with an interest in gas safety."
Both the discussion document and the consumer leaflet are available on the Internet or as hard copies. The Internet site is www.open.gov.uk/hse/discdocs/ It includes a bulletin board where readers can post comments.
For single free copies of the discussion document, Gas Safety Review: Options or Change, ref. (DDE14a) or the leaflet, Gas Safety Review: Options for Chnage - Key Issues for Consumers, ref. (DDE14b), contact: HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA. Tel: +44 (0) 1787 881165; Fax: +44 (0) 1787 313995.