OSHA is investigating an incident in a Pennsylvania supermarket in which 11 people were sickened by carbon monoxide produced by workers renovating the store.
Rescuers say construction workers were using a propane-powered tile cutter inside a tent that had been set up to shield shoppers in the Forks Township, PA, store from dust and debris.
Of the 11 taken to hospitals, three were shoppers and eight others were employees of either the construction contractor or the supermarket.
Ten were treated and released. One person was held overnight in the hospital. When emergency crews arrived, one person had collapsed from the fumes.
Fire officials measured carbon monoxide (CO) levels at 400 parts per million (ppm) in the area around the construction. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for CO levels is 50 ppm as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Anything above 70 ppm is considered dangerous, and levels above 200 ppm can be life-threatening.
Township Fire Chief Chuck Chapman told the Morning Call that the construction crew should have been using an electric-powered tool to cut the tile since the work was being done indoors. He also said there was no evidence of CO monitoring equipment on site.
For more information on CO in the workplace, click here.