Willmott Dixon fined £1.25m after gas leaks at flats

The housing arm of UK contractor Willmott Dixon has been fined £1.25m after people were exposed to carbon monoxide at a block of flats it constructed.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how, on 11 December 2014, at Hamilton House in Wolverton, near Milton Keynes, a number of gas installations were found to be either immediately dangerous or at risk following the report of a smell of gas by a householder.

Willmott Partnership Homes built the flats some years before the incident, but in 2014 some remedial work needed to be carried out on an external wall.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that during the demolition and reconstruction of the wall, many live flues of gas boilers were removed, damaged and blocked, exposing the residents to a risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, reports Construction Manager.

The HSE said that Willmott Partnership Homes as the principal contractor had not ensured that an adequate system of work was in place to manage the risks from working around the live flues.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £1.25 million and ordered to pay cost of £23,972.33.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: "Risks from gas installations, including those related to carbon monoxide, need to be managed by all during refurbishment."

"This incident could have been avoided if the company had implemented a safe isolation system for the live boilers."

In a statement Willmott Dixon said: "We are disappointed that on this particular occasion we fell short of our exceptionally high standards of health and safety, especially given that our record is among the very best in the industry."

"We have extensively reviewed our practices and procedures to ensure this type of incident never happens again and since it took place in 2014, there has been no repetition in over 500 construction projects completed in the past four years.

"We uphold the very highest standards across all our activities, and while we accept the Judge’s ruling, our record since this incident shows that we maintain those standards across our activities."

Image: Hamilton House, Wolverton (Alan Francis Estate Agents)

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