Washington L&I Reminds Workers of Carbon Monoxide Hazards

In light of the apparent carbon monoxide poisoning of employees of a Westport seafood company on Sept. 23, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) reminds people of the dangers of this invisible hazard, particularly in enclosed work areas.

"Every fall and winter, we see an increase in these incidents," said Steve Cant, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. "The exposures may involve large numbers of workers in a single incident."

The most common workplaces for carbon monoxide exposures are storage facilities, warehouses, cold-storage facilities, and fruit, vegetable and seafood packing sheds that use gas or propane forklifts or other equipment, and in enclosed construction sites or workrooms with portable gas heaters.

At the Westport company, Ocean Gold Seafoods, some two dozen workers became ill and were taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. L&I is investigating.

Carbon monoxide gas is colorless, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating and cannot be detected by any of the senses. Because it is not readily detected, employees can be exposed to very high levels without realizing there is a problem. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, visual disturbance and rapid breathing. A person may feel weak and disoriented, making it difficult to get help. Most people recover completely, but in severe cases, symptoms can persist for many weeks or even months, or there can be permanent brain damage or damage to the heart, or death.

Carbon monoxide is produced by all internal combustion engines, including diesel and propane-powered engines, generators, heaters, natural gas cooking units, portable equipment that burns fuel, and motor vehicles. Outdoor use of any of this equipment is not usually hazardous, but in buildings or enclosed spaces, carbon monoxide can quickly build up to dangerous and even deadly amounts.

L&I offers many training resources to help employers prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from forklifts, heaters and other sources. Visit www.Lni.wa.gov and search for "carbon monoxide," for posters, publications and other resources to help maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

Employers who need help assessing their workplace hazards can call L&I for a free safety consultation from a professional consultant who will visit the workplace and perform a hazard assessment review. There’s no charge for the consultation and no obligation other than to correct serious hazards.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Easy to Use Safety Incident App

    Record incidents on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Collect data for multiple types of incidents including including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries; at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus