OSHA reminds employers of dangers of carbon monoxide exposure

Agency offers exposure prevention tips

Posted January 30, 2019

With frigid temperatures affecting much of the U.S., OSHA is reminding employers to take precautions to protect workers from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Each year, workers die from CO poisoning, usually while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.

Sources of carbon monoxide can include anything that uses combustion to operate, such as gas generators, floor buffers, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, space heaters, and furnaces.

Symptoms of CO exposure can include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, or tightness across the chest. Severe CO poisoning can cause neurological damage, coma, and death.

To reduce the risk of CO poisoning in the workplace, OSHA says employers should:

  • Install 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
  • Ensure space heaters and stoves are in good working order and never use them in enclosed spaces or indoors
  • Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air, if available

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