Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Work?
Workers have a right to safe working conditions that do not pose a threat to their health. This includes exposure to carbon monoxide (CO). Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is a serious concern in many workplace environments. Every year, over 400 people die from accidental CO poisoning, which could have been prevented.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can poison you at work if enough of it builds up in your bloodstream. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to meet certain standards for CO exposure and to take preventative measures to protect their employees, CO poisoning still happens.
If you are poisoned from CO at work, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover benefits. These benefits are available to you without the need to prove fault. Even if you know the exposure occurred as a result of your employer’s negligence, workers’ compensation was invented to protect employers from being sued.
For this reason, it’s important to work with an attorney to ensure you get the full benefits from your workers’ compensation claim that you deserve. Even if your employer failed to provide a safe environment, you can only recover compensation through workers’ comp benefits and will likely not be eligible to file a lawsuit for further damages—unless, however, a third party is to blame.
If you need help filing a workers’ compensation claim or have questions or concerns about liability and recovering further damages beyond what workers’ compensation provides, contact a local Louisiana workers’ compensation law firm. They can review your case and offer you guidance on how best to proceed, ensuring you get the benefits and compensation you deserve for your carbon monoxide poisoning.
What Workers Are Most at Risk of Suffering from CO Poisoning While on the Job?
Carbon monoxide is a gas that often results from the incomplete burning of materials containing carbon. This can include gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, propane, oil, coal, and even wood. Various workplaces involve the use of machinery and equipment that run on these materials, such as blast furnaces, forges, vehicles, and internal combustion engines. This is why CO poisoning is such a problem in workplace environments and why employers must take measures to mitigate CO exposure.
Workers who are most at risk of being exposed to carbon monoxide include:
- Organic chemical synthesizers
- Longshore workers
- Forklift operators
- Diesel engine operators
- Maritime workers
- Tollbooth and parking garage attendants
- Taxi drivers or other types of rideshare drivers
Symptoms of Work-Related Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The danger of carbon monoxide is that it is difficult to detect without special devices because it has no odor, color, or taste. So it’s important for workers to know the signs and symptoms of potential CO poisoning so they can move to a more ventilated area and seek emergency medical attention.
Common signs and symptoms of CO poisoning in the workplace include:
- A dull headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
If CO poisoning happens often or is left untreated it can result in permanent brain damage, cardiac complications and heart damage, fetal death or miscarriage for expectant mothers, and death.
How Employers Can Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure at Work
Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy workplace and to adhere to OSHA standards for CO exposure. If they fail to take preventative measures, it is your right as an injured worker to file a claim for workers’ compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages while you recover from CO poisoning.
Preventative measures that employers should take according to OSHA CO guidelines include:
- Install a working ventilation system
- Stay on top of machine and equipment maintenance to reduce CO formation
- Prioritize electric, battery, or compressed air-powered tools, machinery, and equipment over gas-powered engines
- Provide carbon monoxide monitors for individual employees
- Test air quality regularly for CO levels, particularly in areas where CO is likely to be present
- Provide adequate safety gear such as a breathing apparatus and respirators to those workers most likely to be exposed to high levels of CO
- Properly train and educate workers on CO safety and possible sources of exposure
Connect with an Experienced Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’ve been poisoned due to carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace, connect with a local Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney for assistance. Though you don’t need to prove fault to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, it is not uncommon for insurers to deny claims or reduce benefit amounts for various reasons. So it’s helpful to have an attorney on your side who can protect your rights and ensure you are awarded the full amount you deserve.
It is also possible that a third party could be responsible for the CO exposure. In this case, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the guilty party in addition to filing your workers’ comp claim. Understanding how to navigate these various legal processes, however, can be a challenge and you will need someone to guide you through to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible and works out to your benefit.
For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Louisiana, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. After-hours visits are available.