An Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminder has been issued to employers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country to protect workers from the effects of being exposed to carbon monoxide. This is in reaction to a number of incidents that emphasize the need to instruct workers and employers about the carbon monoxide exposure dangers caused by the use of portable generators and other tools inside of enclosed areas.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is odorless and colorless, and workers and employers should be able to recognize the indications of being overexposed. Typical carbon monoxide overexposure symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, tightness across the chest, headaches, drowsiness and vomiting. People who suffer from severe overexposure of the gas can experience neurological damage, become comatose or die.

There are worker deaths that result from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. These deaths usually occur when fuel-burning tools and equipment are used in structures or partially enclosed areas that do not have the necessary ventilation. These tools and equipment may include portable generators, heaters, power tools, pumps, welding equipment, motorized vehicles, compressors, furnaces and gas-powered forklifts. The danger of being poisoned by carbon monoxide increases during the winter months as the equipment is operated in enclosed areas that have been sealed to provide protection against cold temperatures and wind.

The risk of carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace can be reduced by the installation of effective ventilation systems. Having carbon monoxide detectors in spaces where the hazard may be likely can also lower the risk of exposure.

A workers’ compensation attorney may be able to assist injured workers with obtaining the benefits to which they are legally entitled. The attorney may notify the appropriate agencies, such as OSHA, regarding violations that resulted in workplace injuries, like carbon monoxide overexposure.