The owner of a chip shop in Tyneside has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting a charge under the Health and Safety at work act, after exposing his staff to extremely high levels of carbon monoxide.
Benton Chippy owner, Seyed Mehdi Hoseini, has also received a fine together with business partner Alizreza Hammat Bahary, after they both pleaded guilty to two offences categorised under the Environmental Protection Act 1990; causing odour nuisance to the community and by failing to properly maintain their extract system.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is is toxic to humans when encountered in concentrations above about 35ppm (parts per million). Engineers recorded a staggering level of 2000ppm when they visited the Benton Chippy.
Iranian businessman Hoseini was ordered to install odour abatement equipment after several complaints were made by local residents about the smell coming from the takeaway.
Despite the introduction of the equipment, problems still persisted and Environmental Health staff were called in together with gas safety experts and ventilation engineers on 11th November. During this visit, they found that the equipment was blocked with grease and also discovered that the chip shop owner had tampered with the gas safety interlock, exposing his staff to potentially lethal high levels of carbon monoxide.
Seyed Mehdi Hoseini was handed a suspended 4 month prison sentence at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court together with a fine totalling £3820. His business partner, Alizreza Hammat Bahary, received a fine of £2420.
The prosecutor on behalf of Newcastle City council, Melanie Bulman, said,
The only reason the employees had not suffered serious injury or death is because a pane of glass had been removed
Mark Quigley, who was at the Magistrates’ Court defending Mr. Bahary, said,
This is not a situation where you have defendants who simply ignored a problem in the hope it would go away,” he said. “Unfortunately the systems to ensure appropriate maintenance and cleaning of the extraction and ventilation of the shop were not kept up
Mr Hoseini, who was defending himself, said,
It was my first business. I did not have enough knowledge to run the business. But I have learned from my mistake
After being sentenced he said,
It was a bit mismanaged but we have improved everything,” he said. “We make all our money from our neighbours. We appreciate all the custom we get from the neighbours. Eleven of them are not happy with us but thousands of them are. We do apologise for whatever has happened and we promise to put things right in the future