An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed that poisonous and potentially fatal gases could have been pumped into the loft space of two properties after a builder capped the chimneys.

After the work was completed, Cornwall Housing Ltd’s own gas engineers had inspected the properties and classed the situation at both properties as 'immediately dangerous' – which means it was an immediate risk to life.

The HSE found that the chimneys were used to flue working gas boilers and fires at the properties, meaning that the gases had no means to escape and could build up inside.

Prosecuted by HSE, Cornwall Housing Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £6,660 and ordered to pay £697 in costs.

Moreover, contractor Barry Shipton pleaded guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 was fined a total of £2,664 and ordered to pay £692 in costs.

At a hearing in Bodmin Magistrates' Court, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Although no-one was hurt, this was an incredibly dangerous situation where gas appliances could have pumped poisonous and potentially fatal gasses into the loft space of a home instead of to outside the property…proper work instruction and control by Cornwall Housing Ltd and then proper on-site enquiries by Barry Shipton would have prevented this dangerous situation from arising and putting the lives of their tenants at risk”