Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can be detrimental to an individual’s health, resulting in sickness or even death if too much CO is inhaled. New York employers are required to take steps to ensure that their workplace is protected against possible CO hazards. Many employees, however, may not be aware of how subtle carbon monoxide poisoning can be.
The Mayo Clinic lists some symptoms that a person may have breathed in carbon monoxide. Afflicted individuals may suffer from a weak or dizzy spell, a shortness of breath, a slight headache, blurry vision, or a state of confusion. More dangerously, a person may lose consciousness. And if workers happen to be sleeping or inebriate, carbon monoxide can cause permanent brain damage as it seeps into the lungs, or even cause the person to die.
The Center for Disease Control lists a number of guidelines that employers should follow in preventing possible carbon monoxide infiltration into the workplace. Engines or tools that operate on gasoline should not be run in the interior of a building or inside a partly enclosed location, except if gas engines can be placed outside apart from an air intake. Lack of ventilation can cause CO to build up. The CDC points out a case in Colorado where two gas powered pressure washers poisoned five workers because the washers were operated in an underground parking garage that was not well ventilated. Employers should also recognize symptoms of possible CO poisoning in their employees. If a potential source of CO exists, employers are recommended to have carbon monoxide detectors on hand.
New York employees that suffer work-related illness due to carbon monoxide inhalation on the job can seek workers’ compensation. Since CO poisoning is sometimes subtle and could be mistaken for other ailments, it is important to establish that the worker was near a gasoline powered machine or other possible source of CO in a location with improper air circulation or ventilation.