Workers Exposed to Carbon Monoxide Risk

Federal safety officials are warning employers to take steps this winter to protect workers from serious – and sometimes fatal – exposure to carbon monoxide.

The move follows a recent workplace injury incident in a New England warehouse where a worker was found unconscious and having a seizure from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several other workers at the site also became sick. The facility had no exhaust ventilation, and all of the windows and doors had been closed to conserve heat.

Job sites in South Carolina that use gas equipment or heaters can pose a danger to the men and women who work there. The risk increases during winter – when doors and vents are closed to keep out the cold.

Following is from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration:
Every year, workers die from carbon monoxide poisoning, usually while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation. This can be especially true during the winter months when employees use this type of equipment in indoor spaces that have been sealed tightly to block out cold temperatures and wind.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can include everything from headaches, dizziness and drowsiness to nausea, vomiting or tightness across the chest. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological damage, coma and death.

Sources of carbon monoxide can include anything that uses combustion to operate, such as gas generators, power tools, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, space heaters and furnaces.

Following are some safety measures that can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace:
* Effective ventilation systems
* Avoiding gas and oil-burning equipment in enclosed spaces
* Installing carbon monoxide detectors in hazardous areas
* Training workers and supervisors on carbon monoxide risks.

Thousands of workers are injured and killed in workplace accidents each year. Many of these accidents could have been prevented by jobsite safety measures.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=23571