Essex council 'blameless' over college workers poisoning

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Kelly Rodway, Kerry Townsend and Sadie CollinsImage source, Strand News
Image caption,
Kelly Rodway, Kerry Townsend and Sadie Collins were three of the workers awarded damages after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning

A council has been cleared of blame after nine college workers suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

The nine women, who worked in Havering College of Further Education's hair and beauty department in 2012, suffered dizziness, vomiting and hair loss.

Essex County Council (ECC), the college and Sawyers Hall College in Brentwood, where the department was, were ordered to pay £100,000 compensation.

But a High Court appeal ruled only Havering College was responsible.

The women worked at Havering College's Brentwood site which was in the now-closed Sawyers Hall College building, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

On 20 November 2012, the flue to the boiler in the building suffered a blockage resulting in the escape of high levels of carbon monoxide.

During a hearing in 2018 at the Central London County Court, the county council and Sawyers Hall College's governing body were both found to be liable for damages alongside Havering College, as they had been the building's landlords at separate times.

But a High Court judge ruled that they did not have a duty of care for their tenants or visitors of their tenants.

Havering College had denied the women had been poisoned between 2010 and 2012 at the original hearing but the judge ruled the college was "negligent" and had breached health and safety regulations.

Each of the claimants was awarded a sum ranging between £7,000 to £15,000, which only Havering College, based in Hornchurch, is now liable for.

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