Homeowners are aware of the importance of having safety devices, such as carbon monoxide detectors near heating systems, as part of maintaining a safe home environment. However, for most people, the workplace is another environment where a significant amount of one’s hours is spent, and many people may not know whether they are adequately protected from carbon monoxide poisoning on the job.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas produced during combustion from furnaces, boilers, and internal combustion engines. When carbon-containing materials, such as fossil fuels, are not completely burned, carbon monoxide can accumulate with serious and fatal results.
Employees in many industries where carbon-containing materials are burned are at more risk of inhalation poisoning. Workers have the right to a safe and secure work environment and are protected by state and federal employment laws designed to govern workplace hazards. Yet, if safety procedures are not in place, ventilation systems are poorly maintained, and alarm systems are lacking, employees can be at risk to this silent killer.
Certain industries carry a higher risk of exposure to carbon monoxide. Those who are employed in warehouses, refineries, pulp and paper production, or around docks and furnaces are often exposed to carbon monoxide hazards. However, those at higher risk also come from a wide variety of occupations, including welders, mechanics, forklift operators, tollbooth operators, firefighters, and even taxi drivers. Workers in these occupations are exposed to more carbon monoxide risks due to the nature of the work around combustion-producing equipment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends employers take proactive measures to lower the risks of dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Workers should be made aware of the signs of carbon monoxide exposure and be trained on mitigation steps. Carbon monoxide in large amounts can affect a human suddenly by depriving the system of critical oxygen. All workers in at-risk industries should be aware of the signs of poisoning, which include headaches, sudden fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Exposure can cause tightness in the chest, and at higher levels, can cause vomiting, as well as death.
Companies should take steps recommended by OSHA to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. These include strong ventilation systems, effective and regular equipment maintenance, and switching from fossil fuel-powered equipment where feasible. They should also prohibit use of combustion fueled operations in small areas with limited ventilation.
Workers in areas where exposure can happen should have carbon monoxide monitors with alarms as well as access to respirators in high risk areas. When injured on the job due to carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important to know your rights and if any violations occurred. A dedicated Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer can provide you with the experience you need to obtain the compensation and medical treatment you deserve.
If you have been hurt on the job, contact the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP. We have a record of experience in fighting for injured workers’ rights to financial compensation and medical care. For a free consultation regarding your case, please complete our online form or call us at 267-589-0090. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.