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Carbon monoxide: the silent killer

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A London based construction company and the manager of a security company have been fined after an incident in 2008 in which security guard Victor Etu died at work from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mr Etu, 36, had been on duty in a semi derelict building in Mitcham, Surrey which was undergoing refurbishment. Temporary heating and lighting was provided courtesy of a petrol-powered generator as there was no electricity in the building. When Mr Etu failed to make his scheduled call-in, the manager of the security company attended the site and found him lying on the floor in one of the offices. An ambulance was called but Mr Etu was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post mortem revealed the security guard had died from carbon monoxide poisoning and the Health and Safety Executive stated that the company that provided the generator had failed to ensure it was safe for use.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas. It is responsible for the deaths of up to 50 people each year in the UK and countless non-fatal poisonings.
Other gases can cause illness and death by asphyxiation and anyone working in a confined space can be at risk if employers fail to take adequate safety measures.
According to the Labour Force Survey, around 38,000 workers suffered breathing or lung problems in 2009-2010 which were probably work-related and some of them were attributed to gases.
Mr Etu’s family will no doubt pursue a compensation claim against those responsible for their loss.
At Stephensons, our personal injury claims specialists have specific experience in handling claims for fatal injuries at work, including where gas inhalation has been the cause of death. Our experts are adept at pursuing claims against companies and organisations large and small and have a proven track record even where liability is disputed. For sympathetic, professional advice in complete confidence, speak to one of our experts by calling 01616 966 229.
By personal injury solicitor, Kate Sweeney