Scotland recently announced new Building Regulations on carbon monoxide (CO), which not only raises awareness of the deadly gas but also creates an opportunity for installers to demonstrate their duty of care.

Following Northern Ireland’s decision last year, Scotland’s new regulations were announced on Tuesday (11 June) and will take effect from 1 October 2013. They will require the installation of at least one CO alarm in every space containing a fixed combustion appliance (excluding appliances used solely for cooking), and where a flue passes through high-risk accommodation, such as a bedroom or main living room.

The Department of Health estimates that at least 4,000 people attend A&E each year diagnosed with CO poisoning. However, the actual figure is likely to be much higher, as the symptoms are often dismissed as flu or food poisoning. One third of a million people are thought to potentially suffer from exposure to CO unknowingly, and the effects of CO poisoning are estimated to cost the NHS £178 million a year.

Proper installation and regular servicing of all gas or fossil fuel appliances should significantly reduce dangers of CO. As the gas is undetectable to the human senses and its symptoms often mistaken for other ailments, its presence can go unnoticed. A properly placed CO alarm will detect even the lowest levels early on so action can be taken.

Brian Trueman, Scotland and Ireland area specification manager for Sprue Safety Products, explained: “Carbon monoxide is a deadly but avoidable threat, and plumbers and installers can play a vital role in ensuring customers stay safe by alerting them to the risks and ensuring they have working alarms in the right locations.

“By keeping up to date with changing legislation, contractors will demonstrate a duty of care that helps build trust and maintains a strong business reputation. Recent prosecutions of negligent and incompetent service engineers send out a hard-hitting message of the consequences of failing to do so.

“Scotland’s announcement is a significant step forward in reducing this ‘silent killer’, but legislation must go further if more lives are to be saved.

“In the run-up to the heating season, Gas Safety Week in September will help raise people’s awareness of CO. Installers can take this opportunity to inform customers of the new legislation and ensure they are adequately protected.”

Where to fit a carbon monoxide alarm

Where should CO alarms be located?

A CO alarm should not be sited:


FireAngel CO-9X and CO-9D (pictured)  alarms are based on advanced electrochemical sensors and certified to the European Standard BS EN 50291-2010. Sprue Safety Products has produced an installation video for the FireAngel CO-9X to clarify how to fix and locate a CO alarm correctly.

Further guidance on the positioning of CO alarms is also available in BS EN 50292:2002 and from manufacturers' instructions. For more information on Sprue's complete range of CO and smoke alarms, visit: or