30 January 2013
Creating a warm, comfortable and inviting environment for workers is important, and for this reason boilers tend to work overtime throughout the early months of the year.
Citation’s health and safety experts recommend that businesses regularly service their boilers, despite the temporary inconvenience this creates. They argue that the benefits of regular boiler maintenance far outweigh the inconvenience; especially when the health and safety of employees and others is at risk.
The first potential outcome when a boiler is not serviced is that it could simply break down. This can create an unpleasant and uncomfortable environment while the company waits for an engineer to carry out boiler repairs. A number of temporary solutions can be employed in this instance, including electrical heaters and portable gas heaters. It could also be possible to temporarily reduce working hours and in many circumstances arrange for employees to work from home until the boiler is replaced.
Another, much more significant problem is the risk of carbon monoxide being released from a faulty boiler unit. Carbon monoxide is highly poisonous. Problematically, it is also virtually undetectable as it will not be seen, smelled or tasted. A gas leak could lead to a fatality, as every year around 14 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after an appliance or flue is not maintained or repaired.
When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream it combines with the red blood cells and prevents them from carrying oxygen around the body. Common symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness and nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, stomach pain and shortness of breath. When exposed to the gas for longer periods, symptoms increase through loss of balance, vision and memory, and ultimately a loss of consciousness.
Fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable, and all employers need to do is ensure that boilers are annually serviced by a qualified Gas Safe Registered Engineer. Well maintained systems will produce very little carbon monoxide.
The Citation Gas Safety article reads: “The best way to maintain a healthy working environment and protect yourself and your staff from carbon monoxide poisoning is to be familiar with the dangers and identify all appliances that could produce the gas. You should regularly inspect all gas heating systems to ensure that they have not been obstructed and have a good supply of fresh air. If you note that the flame on your boiler is an orange colour or there are black sooty deposits on and around the area of the appliance then you may have a problem and you should switch off the unit immediately and call out a qualified engineer.”
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