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
  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Best Practices to Navigate ISO 45001

    Learn helpful tips and tricks to navigate your transition to ISO 45001 certification and ensure an effective health and safety management system.

  • Improve Your Safety Culture

    Learn the 3 fundamental areas to focus on to achieve safety culture excellence and what you can do to boost employee engagement in your EHS programs.

  • Chemical Safety: 5 Questions Answered by Experts

    Get answers to 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to effectively mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your chemical data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management technology program.

  • How Has COVID-19 Changed Safety Culture?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for health and safety professionals to rethink how they manage risk and develop stronger safety cultures. Read this eBook to learn actionable steps you can implement today to improve your programs.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING: SOFTWARE
      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
    • HAND PROTECTION
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue