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Don't tempt the silent killer

Workers in factories or warehouses in Florida may put their lives on the line without even realizing it. Your employer is responsible for your health and safety, and he or she must provide a safe workplace. Your boss must also inform you of all the risks you could face on the job.

If you operate a forklift or work in an area where motorized equipment is present, you would be wise to learn about the dangers posed by carbon monoxide. Any piece of equipment that works on gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, propane, coal or wood emits dangerous carbon monoxide fumes. Operating a forklift in an enclosed area can be deadly if the ventilation is not enough to dilute the CO fumes.

Why is CO called the silent killer?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide guidelines about exposure limits, and exceeding those limits can cause death. The following are the factors that make carbon monoxide so dangerous:

  • Carbon monoxide has no color, taste or smell, and you will not detect it unless it combines with another gas that you can smell.
  • When you inhale CO, it will take the place of the oxygen in your blood and starve your brain, heart and other vital organs of oxygen, which is essential for life.
  • You might experience flu-like symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, nausea and fatigue, without realizing that it is CO exposure.
  • Short-term exposure is not typically life-threatening, but because you might think you are coming down with the flu, you might continue working in hazardous conditions. Long-term exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause instant death.

Safety precautions

OSHA prescribes safety guidelines to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and employers should provide safety training to teach employees about the risks posed by CO and how to recognize symptoms. Employers could also control exposure by following these precautions:

  • Maintain forklifts and other motorized equipment that cause CO exposure to reduce the formation of carbon monoxide.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in all areas in which gasoline-powered machines operate.
  • Switch to a battery, compressed air or electricity powered machine where possible.
  • Provide each worker with a personal CO monitor with an alarm as warning for dangerous CO levels.
  • Prohibit the operation of fuel-powered machines in areas with poor ventilation.
  • Conduct frequent air tests and combine that with the installation of CO monitors with alarms that will sound if CO levels become dangerous.
  • Workers who must work in areas with hazardous CO levels should have full-face breathing apparatus or respirators as prescribed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Injuries and illness

If you suffer injuries or become ill as the result of carbon monoxide exposure at your workplace, you might have to spend time in a hospital. This will not only lead to mounting medical bills but also lost wages, which can make it difficult for you to provide for your family. Fortunately, the Florida workers' compensation insurance program provides benefits to cover those losses. Although the claims process can be challenging, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.

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Musleh Law Firm
907 SE 3rd Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471

Phone: 352-484-0134
Fax: (352) 732-5744
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