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Wales & West Utilities’ sustained and innovative approach to tackling the silent killer, which injures 4000 people and kills a further 50 in the UK every year, has won the gas distribution network a Wales Quality Award for innovation.The company’s number one priority is delivering a safe and reliable supply of gas to customers in its operational area and its ‘Say no to CO’ initiative is built into everyday business activities.

Wales and West Utilities Quality Innovation Awards

To hone the company’s CO awareness-raising strategy for targeting the most vulnerable people and groups across Wales and the south west of England, operational staff collect CO data which is input into a ‘hotspot’ analysis tool.

Operational colleagues also give on the spot advice to those gas customers they meet on a to day basis, and front line staff wear personal CO alarms, to help spot CO problems even if they are visiting a customer on another matter.

The strategy includes engaging with hard to reach groups and partnership working is helping make sure that Wales & West Utilities can really engage with the right people. An armoury of innovative materials and initiatives is ready to help and support engagement with all groups.

The most vulnerable groups at risk of the effects of CO poisoning include young and elderly people and the company has a range of initiatives and partnerships to reach these groups.

The award was in connection to this programme – innovative approach, working with arts organisations, collaborative programme, working with RWMC student to design and create the puppet etc (please see Arts & Business award submission for further info) To target older schoolchildren and students, the company worked in partnership with the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, which devised a monster CO puppet to warn the Key Stage 3 & 4 young people of the dangers of CO poisoning.

Lucy Mason, Innovation Manager at Wales & West Utilities, said, “We are really delighted to have won an innovation award for our ‘Say no to CO’ initiative. The effects of CO poisoning can be clearly devastating and with only an estimated 12% of homes having a CO alarm fitted, there is definitely a need to continue our campaign to raise awareness of these dangers that can ruin lives.”

David Phillips, Chief Executive Officer, Wales Quality Centre, said, “The Judging panel for the Wales Innovation Award were interested to see the partnership between Wales &West Utilities working in collaboration with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in order to reach their target market.

“Three graduate students from the College created a shocking and memorable puppet that conveys the message of the “Say No to CO” campaign in a very visible way. The Panel commented that the entry was unique in its approach to partnership working. The puppet will be used in workshops all over Wales and the South West to deliver the message, drawing attention to the dangers of this invisible killer in a powerful way that students will be able to engage with and relate to.”

Wales & West Utilities has shown itself to be a leader in the gas industry for raising awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning in innovative ways. The company took a lead role in holding a CO safety conference with the Institute of Gas Engineers & Managers which has now become an annual event to promote innovation in this area.

Wales & West Utilities also participates in best practice sharing events with other gas distribution network companies including with the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group and Welsh Task & Finish group.

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