Two recent incidents, one of them fatal, show the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning — a hazard that crops up every winter.
Investigators believe a man working for a construction company in Carroll, Iowa, died from CO poisoning when he was refueling a gas-powered generator.
Steve Weeks was working for Rotert Construction. The company was using the generator to heat a building’s concrete floor. OSHA is investigating.
In another incident, 28 workers were taken to a hospital and another 20 were treated on the scene when CO seeped from a faulty heating system at La Mar Plastic Packaging in Freeport, NY. Two of the injured had collapsed from CO exposure.
The Freeport Building Department believes the CO came from hanging gas-fired heaters in the building.
Workers were complaining of headaches, dizziness and nausea, all typical symptoms of CO poisoning.
The local fire department measured 500 parts per million (ppm) of CO in the building. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit is 50 ppm or less in an eight-hour period. OSHA is also investigating this incident.
La Mar’s building will be closed until it has been inspected for safety by a licensed professional engineer.
Deaths from CO poisoning usually occur while gas-powered tools and generators are used in buildings or semi-enclosed areas without ventilation.
OSHA says to prevent CO exposure:
- Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces and basements.
- When indoors, use tools powered by electricity or compressed air instead, and
- If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning, get to fresh air right away and go to an emergency room for evaluation.