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December 10, 2012

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Wood-pellet storage could have fatal consequences

Business owners and landlords have been warned that a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method for heating their premises has a potentially deadly side-effect.

Wood-pellet heating is being used increasingly in homes and businesses as an alternative to oil and gas, and wood-pellet boilers are also being used to replace coal-fired boilers, particularly in schools.

However, a paper published in the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s journal The Annals of Occupational Hygiene reports two deaths that occurred within the space of a year in wood-pellet storerooms of domestic sites in German-speaking countries. Both victims died of carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning; one was a pregnant woman.

Fatal accidents from the emission of CO from wood pellets have been previously reported, but only in relation to pellet transport on cargo ships, or storage in silos.

The BOHS says its journal’s paper shows how significant CO concentrations can build up even when storage rooms are ventilated. And the danger seems to be greater in the winter, when the increased demand for pellets results in more frequent replenishment of freshly produced pellets, and more technical problems with wood-pellet heating systems can occur.

The paper calls for an urgent revision of the safety recommendations from the wood-pellet industry, and the HSE has now put a warning on its website – www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/co-wood-pellets.htm

The Annals of Occupational Hygiene has issued a collection of its papers related to this topic, available at: http://annhyg.oxfordjournals.org/
 

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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