Carbon Monoxide, The Silent Killer—When Silence Is Not Golden

From the inside of your home to the workplace, carbon monoxide is an ever-present threat, and is the leading cause of death from unintentional poisoning. Each year, more than 430 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fire and more than 50,000 visit the emergency room.

Carbon monoxide (“CO”), commonly known as the “silent killer,” is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. While the most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion, high concentrations of CO inhalation can cause rapid loss of consciousness and death. During prolonged periods or high levels of exposure, symptoms may suddenly worsen.

Carbon Monoxide at the Workplace

Much of the work that Texans undertake at the workplace pose increased risks of CO poisoning. Indeed, CO poisoning is most common among those who work in industry. Harmful levels of CO can be found in boiler rooms, warehouses, petroleum refineries, steel production plants, even around docks, blast furnaces or coke ovens.

Under the law, employers are required to provide safe working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. To reduce the changes of CO poisoning in the workplace, workers should expect their employer to take certain actions to reduce the chances of CO poisoning, such as:

  • Install an effective ventilation system that will remove CO from work areas.
  • Maintain equipment and appliances that can produce CO in good working order to promote their safe operation and control the production of excess CO.
  • Provide personal/remote CO monitors with alarms to alert workers of CO exposure.
  • Use respirators in conjunction with CO monitors in circumstances were risks of CO exposure are high.
  • Prohibit the use of gasoline-powered engines or tools in poorly ventilated or confined areas.
  • Test air regularly in areas where CO may be present, including confined spaces.

The law also provides that workers have the right to receive information and training about workplace hazards, the methods to prevent them, and the industry standards that apply to their workplace. Accordingly, employers who fail to educate their workers about the sources and conditions that may result in CO poisoning as well as the symptoms and ways to control CO exposure may be liable for any injuries that their workers sustain.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed from carbon monoxide poisoning at the workplace, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884“>1-800-594-4884.