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In thick of winter, reminder to avoid carbon monoxide exposure

As we approach the thick of winter, OSHA issued a release this week reminding employers to take necessary precautions to protect workers from the serious, and sometimes fatal, effects of carbon monoxide exposure.

“Every year, workers die from carbon monoxide poisoning, usually while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation,” OSHA wrote. “This can be especially true during the winter months when employees use this type of equipment in indoor spaces that have been sealed tightly to block out cold temperatures and wind.”

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can include everything from headaches, dizziness and drowsiness to nausea, vomiting or tightness across the chest. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological damage, coma and death. If you think you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide, go see a health professional.

OSHA provided the following tips for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install an effective ventilation system,
  • Avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces,
  • Use carbon monoxide detectors in areas where the hazard is a concern, and
  • Take other precautions outlined in OSHA’s Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet.



National COSH has additional materials here.