Posted: 12 February 2018
Simon Main, Project Worker at Gas Safety Charity discusses the real dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning that kills at least 30 people every year, and how care workers need to have the right skills and knowledge to potentially save lives.
Social care workers who provide care and support in someone’s own home can often be the only person they see that week.
They have a responsibility to observe any changes in the lives of the people they support and their environment. As employers, you should ensure that they have the right skills and knowledge to do this.
They might already do ‘mandatory’ training such as moving and handling, the Care Certificate, first aid and health and safety – but what about awareness around gas safety and specifically carbon monoxide poisoning?
Any carbon monoxide incident can have serious consequences for all involved. For example, exposure to carbon monoxide has been linked to an increased risk of falls and early signs of dementia.
The 2017 report: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Saving Lives, Advancing Treatment, provides a call to action by the healthcare sector.
As employers, you have a legal ‘duty of care’ to your staff. Ensuring they have a basic awareness of the risks and actions required will help them potentially save lives. You need to ensure your staff can recognise the sources, signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, not only in an emergency situation, but also if there’s a low level, long-term exposure to the gas.
Some of the early signs are unusual levels of dizziness, drowsiness and nausea which rapidly clears when exposed to fresh air.
If someone suspects there are any risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, they should:
- assess the situation and decide whether immediate action is needed
- review the home environment using knowledge from the Gas Safe Charity training
- identify potential CO sources and if there is a gas boiler, encourage the person to have it serviced by a Gas Safe Registered engineer
- raise concerns with the person, their family and friends
- speak to their line manager and agree next steps, if they still have any concerns.
The Gas Safe Charity is running free workshops for organisations that provide services in the homes of vulnerable people across the UK. They’re aimed at front-line staff and managers and will support your organisation to develop a policy of carbon monoxide awareness .Later this year, you’ll also be able to dial into a webinar and access free e-learning for your frontline workers.
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