Big UK Pub Chain Fined for CO Death
Enterprise Inns plc was fined $478,000 in a case involving a tenant landlord who died in November 2007 of carbon monoxide poisoning. The company owns about 7,700 pubs across the United Kingdom.
A company that owns about 7,700 pubs throughout the United Kingdom was fined $478,000 on Oct. 5 after Britain's Health and Safety Executive prosecuted it for violating Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The case stemmed from the November 2007 carbon monoxide death of Paul Lee, 41, who was a tenant landlord of the company at the time of his death.
HSE's investigation found tenants at 474 other pubs operated by Enterprise Inns plc were also at risk.
Lee turned on a gas heater in his living room one night. He was found unconscious by a cleaner 10 hours later and died of a heart attack while being transported to a hospital, according to HSE, which said Lee had worked for Enterprise Inns for less than a month.
The heater may not have been serviced since 1979, and its chimney was completely blocked, the agency reported. Enterprise Inns should have carried out gas safety inspections at 868 of its pubs at least annually, but only 394 of them had valid inspection certificates. The gas heater that caused Lee's death should have been inspected before he moved in, according to HSE, which said it issued a written warning to Enterprise Inns in 2001 after a fire at one of its properties in Birmingham "highlighted a systematic failure to implement annual gas safety checks."
"It is shocking that a major pub chain failed to ensure regular gas safety checks were carried out at more than 400 of its properties. As a result, one man has been killed and hundreds of other lives have been put at risk," said Iain Evans, the HSE investigating inspector. "Tests we carried out [on the heater in Lee's apartment] showed that the workplace limit for exposure to carbon monoxide would have been exceeded within five minutes of it being turned on and would have reached a level known to be fatal within an hour. What makes this case so tragic is that Mr. Lee's life could have been saved if Enterprise Inns had continued to obey the written warning it received about gas safety six years earlier, instead of falling back into old habits."
Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."