Wood pellet and wood chip boilers are used in homes, community buildings, and businesses as a renewable energy alternative to oil or gas fired boilers. They are also increasingly being considered for use in large scale power generation.
Outside the UK, there have been at least nine fatalities since 2002 in Europe caused by carbon monoxide poisoning following entry into wood pellet storage areas. This report describes a study, involving seven site visits, to develop evidence to inform HSE engagement with the industry on the prevention of carbon monoxide poisonings.
The study confirmed that potentially dangerous atmospheres may be generated in both wood pellet and wood chip storage. The study found that: knowledge of the hazards associated with these fuels, including confined space entry, was limited at sites operating small boiler systems; there had been limited communication of the health and safety issues between companies supplying and maintaining boilers, those manufacturing and supplying fuel, and users; and that while an HSE Safety Notice had raised awareness generally, not all the recommendations had been taken up at individual sites.
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