As workers begin to return to workplaces, are they safe? Gas-related injuries may not sound like a major risk factor for office workers, but the stats are surprisingly higher than you would expect – and with a year away for many, essential building maintenance may not have been undertaken in many workplaces.
Health and safety expert, CE Safety, has analysed data to reveal the injuries and fatalities caused by gas safety failings in the workplace. Employers are required by law to ensure essential checks are undertaken to keep workplaces and people safe.
CE Safety’s analysts broke down the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data, looking into how carbon monoxide leaks, gas explosions and other instances have affected people at work from 2015 to 2020, and their findings reveal that 2019-20 was the worst year since 2015, with 41 gas explosions injuring 35 people. That’s a 58% increase, and out of 11 fatalities over the last five years, eight of those occured in 2019-20 alone.
However, fatalities are only part of the story. 2016-17 was the worst year for people injured by an explosion at work, with 39 recorded.
However, there was some positive news when the analysts looked at carbon monoxide poisoning data in the workplace. They noted a 34% decrease in carbon monoxide poisonings since 2015, with 96 instances, no fatalities being recorded, and 151 non-fatal injuries.
Injuries from unburnt gas more than doubled, from six reports in 2015-16 to 13 in 2019-20 and in 2018-19, there were six events of ‘other exposures’ resulting in an increase of 117% in the last 12 months. No fatalities were recorded, but the analysts found that these exposures did cause 41 injuries over the last year, with 2019-20 being the worst, recording 15 instances.
While that old cooker in the workplace kitchen may not be used often, and the heating not upmost in your priority list at this time of year, employers have liability to ensure that workplaces comply with the relevant regulations surrounding gas appliances to help ensure worker and public safety, and this includes such items as cookers in your staff kitchen and central heating boilers. With almost a year out of the office, essential checks and maintenance should be undertaken on gas appliances before staff return to the office – because if the appliance causes sickness or injury, the employer is liable.
With over 20 years’ experience in the health and safety industry, the team at CE Safety provide best practice, expert training and consultancy in all areas of health and safety at work. For more information, visit https://cesafety.co.uk/