OSHA issues reminder on carbon monoxide dangers

Many New Jersey workers face the threat of carbon monoxide exposure while on the job. The exposure typically comes from equipment such as portable generators and heaters that have been placed in areas with improper ventilation.

To help protect American workers from the hazards of carbon monoxide, which is odorless and colorless, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a safety reminder to employers on Feb. 12. According to the agency, effective ventilation is key to reducing the chances of carbon monoxide exposure. To that end, employers and workers should avoid using equipment that burns fuel and make sure gas-powered vehicles are never operated in enclosed areas.

The risk of carbon monoxide overexposure goes up during the winter months. This is because more workers are using equipment inside where there is less ventilation. The most common types of equipment associated with carbon monoxide poisoning include heaters, generators, compressors, furnaces, power tools, welding equipment and gasoline-fueled vehicles. Workers who are exposed to high concentrations of carbon monoxide can suffer from dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, chest tightness, nausea and vomiting. Prolonged exposure can lead to brain damage, coma and even death.

Most New Jersey workers who suffer on-the-job exposure to carbon monoxide or other toxic hazards are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits through their employer’s insurance policy. Once approved, these benefits will pay a portion of an injured worker’s salary and cover any medical expenses he or she accrues during recovery. An attorney familiar with the workers’ compensation claims process could review a worker’s case and explain all benefits available.

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