A teenager has been robbed of his hearing in an accident at his place of work. The fast food worker also lost his friend and co-worker in the same incident. The two young men had been working at a South London carry-out food retailer when they were overcome with carbon monoxide fumes. They were found unconscious on the store room floor by their employer, who called emergency services. The two young men were rushed to hospital where one lost his fight for life and the other was in a coma for several days. It was discovered when he regained consciousness that he had been left profoundly deaf as a result of his exposure to the gas.
Six-month custodial sentence
It was found that the gas had been leaking from a faulty propane gas heater located in the shop’s store room. The safety switch was found to have been faulty and there was evidence that repairs had been attempted by the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper was initially charged with manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm, however charges were subsequently dropped. He pleaded guilty to breaking certain health and safety regulations and received a six month custodial sentence which was suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community service.
Solicitors were appointed to claim compensation on behalf of the teenager, and the shopkeeper’s liability insurers agreed to settle out of court. They awarded the teenager £150 thousand. His solicitor stated: “This employer destroyed our client’s life by failing to replace this faulty heater. This compensation cannot alleviate the pain that he has endured as a result of this horrendous experience but it is some recognition of the problems he faces as a result of his physical disabilities”.