Works Accidents & Carbon Monoxide: An Undetectable Killer

There are a lot of dangers on the job that you might never think about.

Not only might you not think about them, but some you can’t even see, taste or smell. We’re talking about carbon monoxide. According to officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that can is frequently linked to accidental death — both at home and in the workplace.

You can inhale carbon monoxide and never even know about it. This is a serious threat that may be one of the hardest to detect. Ultimately, accidents, injuries and fatalities involving carbon monoxide can be prevented with the right safety tools and procedures in place. This is particularly important as we head into the colder months, as generators and kerosene heaters are among the most common causes of such tragedies.
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Our workers’ compensation attorneys understand that carbon monoxide is a common industrial danger that comes from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material that contains carbon. Some of these materials include oil, propane, wood, coal, kerosene and gasoline. These gases can come from coke ovens, blast furnaces, forges and most commonly internal combustion engines.

So how does carbon monoxide harm you?

It’s harmful when you breathe it in because is displaces oxygen in the blood and does not allow the brain, heart and other vital organs to get the proper amount of oxygen. When you inhale large amounts of this gas, you can lose consciousness within minutes and even die.

The only warning signs that you’re going to get is maybe some tightness in the chest, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue and maybe a headache, but it happens so quickly, it may be too late before you diagnose the problem.

Some people are at higher risks, too. These groups include younger people, elderly workers, those with medical conditions and those working at high altitudes.

Luckily, carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed if you catch it early enough. But even if you’re lucky enough to recover, even the smallest amount of poisoning can have some lasting effects.

Those who work in petroleum refineries, warehouses, breweries, boiler rooms, paper and pulp production and even in steel production are at high risks for these incidents.

Safety Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

-Make sure the work area has the proper ventilation system.

-Make sure that equipment that produces carbon monoxide is kept in good working order.

-Don’t allow gas-powered engines in small work spaces and even in larger work areas that are not properly ventilated.

-Make sure workplaces with these gases have carbon monoxide monitors. Check to make sure that all carbon monoxide monitors have audible alarms.

-Test work areas regularly for the gas. This is especially important in confined work areas.

-Make sure respirators are available and workers are trained in their operation.

-Post emergency contact information in the workplace.

-Be sure that all employees are educated about the sources and the conditions that might result in carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to the symptoms and the control of exposure to the dangerous gas.

Have you or a loved one been injured on the job? Contact the Lee Law Offices today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Fires: A Real Workplace Threat, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 22, 2012

Contest for New Technology to Inform Young Workers, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 22, 2012

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