20 January, 2010
In January 2010, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched a new safety awareness campaign, aimed at students at university. The 'Will You Wake Up?' operation targets students, their parents and their landlords to inform them about the dangers posed by carbon monoxide.
With HSE figures showing that 15 people died last year and 234 suffered major injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning, it is hoped by the campaign that those who may be living away from home for the first time will not form part of the statistics for 2010.
The HSE has offered practical advice to students such as asking for a copy of the current gas safety certificate for the property being rented and also installing audible carbon monoxide alarms. Additionally, there is legislation which all parties should ideally be aware of when dealing with rented accommodation.
All providers of housing (including student accommodation) are under a legal duty to arrange maintenance of all gas pipe work, appliances and flues which are used by tenants by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords also must arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. When such a check is carried out, a record of the inspection must be held for two years and a copy must be provided to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed. A copy must also be issued before a new tenant moves into a property.
From April 2009, the Capita Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by HSE under the 1998 Regulations and replaced the previous CORGI registration. All installers (including those used by landlords) wanting to undertake domestic gas work will need to be registered with the Gas Safe scheme in order to be able to lawfully carry out any work on both gas fittings and appliances in a property.
Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste which makes identifying its presence very difficult. It can kill people without warning. In order to avoid this happening, it is advised that all residential gas appliances are properly maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out. It may also be beneficial to install carbon monoxide detectors in the property as a precautionary measure.
The new HSE campaign is designed to raise awareness in a group of people who may not be fully informed of their rights as tenants. Similarly, student landlords may not know the intricacies of renting out properties. With statistics showing that fatal and serious injuries were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning last year, it is vital that everyone adheres to the law in this area and reduce the risks in the future.