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Beware of this silent killer in the workplace

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal within minutes. Any workplace where fuel-powered engines run could be a hazardous area where employees could be overwhelmed by this deadly gas.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is tasteless, odourless and colourless, making it undetectable. A workplace accident involving a worker in a confined space where CO is present almost always ends in tragedy.

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Safety training is crucial to make sure workers recognize the symptoms immediately. Exposure to low concentrations of CO can cause:

  • Slight headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath - even with just moderate physical exertion

Workers in areas with high CO concentrations may experience:

  • Mental confusion
  • Severe headache
  • Impaired hearing and vision
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Collapse

Unconsciousness can cause a coma or death within minutes in areas where workers are exposed to extreme concentrations of this silent killer.

Employers should train their employees to understand how toxic this gas is and to use extreme caution when working in areas where it could be present. They must know potential sources and the preventative measures to take. Learning what to do in such an emergency is essential. Furthermore, any attempts to rescue a co-worker who has collapsed in a CO contaminated area must involve a rescuer and an observer. Both must be connected to a lifeline, have a respiratory apparatus and a safety harness.

If you have lost a loved one in a workplace accident, you will likely have questions about your options for financial relief. A lawyer with experience in employment laws and workers' compensation can provide answers. Legal counsel can explain your rights and assist you with the navigation of a death benefits claim.

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