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Building awareness about gas poisoning

Members of the public are being warned about the dangers of faulty gas appliances in response to the deaths of a pair of Mooroopna brothers in 2010.

January 14, 2013 4:30am

A targeted public awareness campaign has been identified as the most cost effective measure to curb carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by faulty gas appliances.

In response to the tragic deaths of brothers Chase and Tyler Robinson in their Mooroopna home in 2010, Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone introduced a private member’s motion pushing for the mandatory installation of CO detectors in all residential properties with a gas appliance, as well as promoting greater safety awareness.

The motion gained bipartisan support and was referred to the Ministerial Council on Energy to explore options to mitigate the risk of CO poisoning from gas appliances in households and recreational vehicles.

The Gas Technical Regulators Committee was subsequently tasked with developing a draft Gas Appliance (CO) Safety Strategy.

While recognising a need for mandatory CO detectors, the lack of regulations and standards for their installation and use in Australia made this impractical in the short term. They instead focused on awareness campaigns on the dangers of CO poisoning.

‘‘The states and territories agreed with this strategy and most have implemented their own gas safety awareness campaigns. Some, including Victoria, have included a training regime for gas fitters,’’ Dr Stone said.

“Gas fitters in Greater Shepparton say requests for gas appliance inspections doubled in the first 12 months after the tragedy and some real estate agents contacted landlords of rental properties alerting them to the need for safety checks,” Dr Stone said.

“Developing standard regulations in Australia for CO detectors remains a desirable step, but we have come a long way in making people aware that CO is the silent killer, with the gas having no colour, taste or odour.”

Gas appliances should be checked at least every two years and Dr Stone said it was now time to mark the calendar if a safety check was due this year.

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