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

  • The Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and in and outs. This guide is here to help!

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Thinking of getting an online safety training solution at work but not sure how to evaluate different solutions and find the one that's best for your company? Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • SDS Software Buyer's Guide

    Whether this is your first time shopping for online SDS software or you’re upgrading from a legacy solution, this guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that works best for you and your company.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2022

    January February 2022

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SAFETY
      Industrial Facility Safety from the Loading Dock to the Plant Interior
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Tiny Particles: Big Booms
    • OIL & GAS
      Creating a Culture of Safety
    • PPE: HAND PROTECTION
      Innovative, Comfortable Hand Protection Option for Workers
    View This Issue