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The Times article: "Rules are Rules"

John Bouckley, Commercial & Consumer Services, Transportation and Utilities Sector responds - 17 March 2006

The Editor
The Times
1 Pennington Street
London
E98 1TA

17 March 2006

Sir

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned that your recent article on gas boilers (Rules are rules...Money, 11 March) could, inadvertently, result in readers being at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills around 30 people every year.

Some 80 per cent of these deaths involve open-flue appliances. All appliances need an adequate air supply to operate safely, particularly the open-flue type, where the air is provided by fixed ventilation openings, for example airbricks or grills. It is vital that these openings are kept free.

There has been no change to the British Standard for such ventilation. What has changed is that, following agreement by a gas industry panel, CORGI has revised the guidance to installers on the action to take when they find inadequate ventilation. The new Unsafe Situations Procedure makes the previous guidance much clearer.

HSE's message to Times readers is that they should get their gas appliances serviced annually by a CORGI-registered installer, and act on any advice given. Our concern is that many readers may not appreciate the importance of ventilation and, having read your article, might be inclined to ignore such advice. This could potentially place lives at risk, which cannot have been your intention.

Further advice can be obtained from HSE's web site at: www.hse.gov.uk/gas/index.htm

John Bouckley
Commercial & Consumer Services, Transportation and Utilities Sector
HSE
Pearson Building
55 Upper Parliament Street
Nottingham NG1 6AU

Updated 2011-11-07