U.S. Department of Labor Cracks Down On Employee Exposure to Carbon Monoxide

This silent toxin is both colorless and odorless, and exposure to it is often deadly; that’s why the U.S. Department of Labor does not take carbon monoxide (CO) matters lightly.

This silent toxin is both colorless and odorless, and exposure to it is often deadly; that’s why the U.S. Department of Labor does not take carbon monoxide (CO) matters lightly.

One seemingly minor slip-up can have detrimental and hazardous effects. As one case between the U.S. Department of Labor and AJR Landscaping company shows, simply starting a gasoline-fueled machine in confined quarters is a violation of safety protocol and a potential death sentence. A U.S. Department of Labor OSHA news release goes into further detail.

The Washington Township New Jersey Police Department was the first to request an OSHA inspection of AJR Landscaping. Two landscaping employees died from CO exposure after a gasoline-fueled lawnmower was started inside an enclosed company trailer that then transported the crew to a jobsite. Not only did the company expose its employees to the deadly gas, but it failed to train employees to recognize the hazard to begin with. Now the company is faced with $17,051 in penalties.

As OSHA Area Office Director Lisa Levy explains, “any time there is a gas-powered motor or engine running in an enclosed space, there is risk of exposure to exhaust fumes,” which contain the odorless, toxic carbon monoxide. This tragedy would have been preventable had the employer adhered to basic safety and health practices. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.

To help other employers and employees remain educated on carbon monoxide exposure, OSHA provides compliance assistance resources at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/carbonmonoxide-factsheet.pdf. For other ways in which OSHA is working to enforce these safety and health standards, visit the OSHA website.

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