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The carbon monoxide poisoning death of a Meriden, Conn., man in March 2014 has resulted in citations for the man’s employer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Middletown, Conn., carpet company Custom Carpet on six violations following an investigation into the workplace fatality. Proposed penalties may range as high as $70,000 for a willful violation or $7,000 for a serious violation.
OSHA’s investigation found that Robert Williams was operating a forklift inside the Custom Carpet building. A co-worker described experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure and decided to leave the workplace, according to OSHA. The co-worker said that he didn’t see Williams prior to leaving the building. He was later found unconscious and then died from an overexposure to carbon monoxide.
In another recent case, OSHA cited roasted nut manufacturer Star Snacks Co. for violations that included overexposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide at the company’s Bayonne, N.J., manufacturing facility.
“A forklift operator was overexposed to carbon monoxide and hospitalized in 2007, but Star Snacks Co. still doesn’t have the necessary safeguards in place to protect its employees from carbon monoxide,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office, in a news release.
Overexposure to carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and death. To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace, employers should 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 here. For additional information on carbon monoxide poisoning and preventing exposure in the workplace, see OSHA’s fact sheets here.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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