Woman lucky to be alive after gas leak
PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 December 2017
A Weston woman has won thousands of pounds in compensation after a health organisation pumped toxic gas into her office, causing her to lose her sense of smell.
Margaret Colbridge and North Somerset Community Partnership (NSCP) colleagues were left nauseous and lethargic after ‘silent killer’ carbon monoxide was allowed into their office.
Her solicitors say the former health worker is lucky the gas leak was not fatal.
The 67-year-old, who worked at Worle Health Centre, in High Street, made complaints about the smell but no action was taken.
It was only when she visited her GP did she become aware she had been inhaling carbon monoxide.
Margaret has now retired but continues to suffer from a lack of smell, so contacted trade union Unison which asked Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a compensation claim – earning her an £8,250 payout.
She said: “I told my managers numerous times the smell was making us all feel ill, but they weren’t interested.
“We worked in a small office which meant we had to have the windows open, but as soon as we did this the pungent smell would flood in.
“I knew the smell wasn’t normal but when my doctor told me just how dangerous the gas was it really put things into perspective.”
Jacqui Bridges, from Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Carbon monoxide is often branded the silent killer, with 40 people dying from inhaling it every year in the UK.
“Margaret did the right thing in raising her concerns to her manager.
“The complaints should have been investigated, but a lack of health and safety procedures at the company meant our client has borne the brunt of its failings to address what could have been a fatal gas leak.”
An engineer carrying out an inspection at the centre eventually noticed the smell and moved a flue located outside the office’s window to the building’s roof, advising all staff to evacuate immediately.
An NSCP spokesman said: “NSCP views the health and safety of our employees as paramount, therefore when we became aware of the matter we commissioned a number of independent expert surveys.
“Even though these survey results proved inconclusive we took the additional precaution of liaising with the building’s owner to ensure the flue was removed.”