A New England warehouse worker recently was found unconscious and suffering from convulsions while on the job. After realizing other workers at the same site had become sick, it was determined that high levels of carbon monoxide had caused the problem. Most people are aware of the potential dangers that carbon monoxide presents, but are unaware of how much these dangers are heightened during the winter months. Employees who work in the field for their jobs often use different types of fuel-burning equipment while inside to keep warm, and often this equipment is running in small or enclosed spaces, just like the workers in the situation above. They were trying to conserve heat while working, in turn allowing no ventilation in the room.
In order to remain safe while working this winter, monitor your use of generators, space heaters, compressors, welding equipment and anything else that uses combustion to operate. If you fear that you or someone you are working with may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, be aware of the symptoms: headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tightness in the chest or drowsiness. Employers, be sure that your workspaces have effective ventilation systems, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed spaces and always make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working in all areas. It’s been a frigid winter, but don’t let the craving for warmth cloud your judgment on proper use of all equipment in the workplace.