Workers are still dying from carbon monoxide exposure

OSHA is currently reminding employers to protect their employees from the serious effects of carbon monoxide exposure. This is in the wake of a New England worker who was found unconscious near his workstation, experiencing seizures as a result of carbon monoxide exposure. Within days, a number of other workers at the site became sick as well.

What did the investigation show? All the windows and doors in the facility were closed tightly to conserve heat in the face of winter temperatures, but the real problem was the lack of any sort of exhaust ventilation, and this was a site with a lot of combustion mechanisms indoors — a sure fire recipe for carbon monoxide exposure.

It seems like it ought to be an archaic problem, but every year workers die on the job as a result of carbon monoxide exposure. And it is particularly bad in winter when, as with the example above, many employers seal windows and close doors to keep the cold out.

Some common examples of carbon monoxide sources include things as simple as power tools, space heaters and furnaces, to more heavyweight equipment like gas generators, compressors, and welding equipment. So even though you may not operate within a heavy manufacturing environment, there is still a chance you and your employees can be exposed to carbon monoxide.

That’s why OSHA is asking employers to  install an effective ventilation system, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or even partially-enclosed spaces, and (quite logically) to install carbon monoxide detectors in areas of concern.

For complete tips on mitigating risk associated with carbon monoxide exposure, check out OSHA’s Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet.

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