OSHA Warns Dangers Heighten During Winter
As much of the nation battles cold weather, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers this winter to take needed precautions to protect workers from the serious, and sometimes fatal, effects of carbon monoxide exposure.
An example of how dangerous the threat can be to workers, news came recently that a worker in a New England warehouse was found unconscious and seizing, suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
As officials would discover, several other workers at the site also became sick. An examination showed that all of the windows and doors were closed to conserve heat, there was no exhaust ventilation in the facility, and very high levels of carbon monoxide were measured at the site.
Employers Can Decrease Risk With Proper Ventilation
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.
For those not aware, 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.
Employers can decrease the risk to workers of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace by installing an effective ventilation system, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces, use carbon monoxide detectors in areas where the hazard is a concern and take other precautions outlined in OSHA's Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet.
Given the chance that even one worker can be injured or die from carbon monoxide poisoning, it behooves employers to take such a threat seriously.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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