Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning a Risk at Your Facility?

November 14, 2005
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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. So, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.
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CO is a common industrial gas resulting from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material containing carbon such as, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. Forges, blast furnaces, and coke ovens produce CO, but one of the most common sources of exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.
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To reduce the chances of CO poisoning in your workplace, you should take the following actions:
  • áááááááá Install an effective ventilation system that will remove CO from work areas.
  • áááááááá Maintain equipment and appliances (e.g., water heaters, space heaters, cooking ranges) that can produce CO in good working order to promote their safe operation and to reduce CO formation.
  • áááááááá Consider switching from gasoline-powered equipment to equipment powered by electricity, batteries, or compressed air if it can be used safely.
  • áááááááá Prohibit the use of gasoline-powered engines or tools in poorly ventilated areas.
  • áááááááá Provide personal CO monitors with audible alarms if potential exposure to CO exists.
  • áááááááá Test air regularly in areas where CO may be present, including confined spaces.
  • áááááááá Install CO monitors with audible alarms.
  • áááááááá Use a full-facepiece pressure-demand self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), or a combination full-facepiece pressure-demand supplied-air respirator with auxiliary self-contained air supply in areas with high CO concentrations; i.e., those immediately dangerous to life and health. (See 29 CFR 1910.134.)
  • áááááááá Use respirators with appropriate canisters for short periods under certain circumstances where CO levels are not exceedingly high.
  • áááááááá Educate workers about the sources and conditions that may result in CO poisoning as well as the symptoms and control of CO exposure.
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If employees are working in confined spaces where the presence of CO is suspected, you must ensure that workers test for oxygen sufficiency before entering.
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Click here to download a copy of OSHAÆs fact sheet on carbon monoxide.
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NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Reorganizes

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NIOSHÆs National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) has reorganized into three branches: Technology Evaluation, Technology Research, and Policy and Standards Development.
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The Technology Evaluation branch is responsible for the respirator certification program as well as the quality audit program. This quality program addresses periodic audits of respirator performance or reported problems with deployed units.
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The Technology Research branch will carry on research related to innovative technologies for respiratory protection, sensors for personal protective technologies, human performance, and PPE ensembles for first responders that provide improved protection against chemical and biological agents.
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The Policy and Standards branch will continue to develop and update standards to improve safety and health of respirator users, and produce user guidance documents.
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The reorganization also created four new positions for NPPTL called program managers. The four managers will provide global direction for the respiratory protection, sensors, personal protective equipment ensembles, and human performance program.
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OSHA Cites Birds Eye for Safety Hazards - Proposed Penalties Exceed $60,000

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OSHA has cited Birds Eye Foods and proposed penalties totaling $60,275 for safety and health hazards at the company's Montezuma, Ga., plant.
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"This inspection was conducted under OSHA's local emphasis program to reduce employee exposure to hazards commonly found at fruit and vegetable processing plants," said John J. Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director. "Preventing worker exposure to accidental releases of ammonia is one goal of the program."
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The company received 24 serious citations for alleged violations observed during the June inspection. Cited items include failing to properly locate ammonia pressure release discharge piping and provide workers with current, updated process safety management information.
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OSHA also cited Birds Eye for exposing workers to:
  • áááááááá Fall hazards from unguarded roof edges, floor openings and stairways
  • áááááááá Electrical shocks from defective equipment and allowing non-qualified employees to work on the equipment
  • áááááááá "Caught-by" injuries from unguarded machinery
  • áááááááá Other injuries by failing to provide personal protective equipment
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The agency issues serious citations when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazards.
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OSHA Cites Construction Company for Trenching Hazards

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OSHA has cited Don Hall Construction for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a Morrow, Ga., worksite. The agency is proposing $89,200 in total penalties.
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"This employer was aware of safe trenching practices, but did not implement them at this job site," said Andre Richards, OSHA's Atlanta-West area director. "OSHA is committed to reducing these hazards, which injure or kill many construction workers every year."
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On June 8, OSHA began an inspection at the corner of Forest Parkway and 3rd Ave., where soil was being excavated from under the highway to install a sewer drain line. The employer provided a trench box only 20 feet long to protect employees working in a trench 11 feet deep and 40 feet long.
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The company received one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $56,000, for failing to adequately protect workers from potential trench wall collapses. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.
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OSHA also issued four repeat citations, with proposed penalties totaling $27,200, for failing to provide workers with hard hats and a safe means of entering and exiting the trench, and failing to assure that material was safely excavated and placed more than two feet from the trench edge. The company was fined an additional $6,000 for two serious violations: using defective ladders and failing to properly install trench shields.
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OSHA Joins with Mexican and Guatemalan Consulates to Enhance Safety of Hispanic Workers

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Improving occupational safety and health for Mexican and Guatemalan workers in New York and New Jersey is the goal of a newly signed alliance between OSHA and the Consulate Generals of Mexico and Guatemala in New York City. OSHA and the consulate will jointly develop and provide training and education programs to non-English or limited-English speaking employees and employers. The training, to be delivered in Spanish, will focus on reducing workers' exposure to fall, electrical, amputation, and other hazards. It will include delivery in Spanish of OSHA's 10- and 30-hour general and construction industry courses.
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The alliances will encourage bilingual individuals to take OSHA's Train-the-Trainer courses so they can qualify to teach the OSHA 10- and 30-hour courses in Spanish. In addition, the consulate's constituency will be encouraged to develop relationships with OSHA offices regarding safety and health issues and to participate in OSHA's cooperative programs.
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OSHA Forms Partnership to Protect Construction Workers at Weston Power Plant Site

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OSHA has formed a partnership with the Wisconsin Public Service Corp., project contractors and subcontractors and labor representatives of workers who, over the next four years, will build a $750 million 500-megawatt coal-fired electric generation plant just south of Wausau, Wis.
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OSHA's Strategic Partnerships for Worker Safety and Health are part of OSHAÆs ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of workers through cooperative relationships with groups including trade associations, labor organizations, and employers.
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"This is an opportunity for OSHA to provide training and technical support to contractors to help them develop safety and health systems," said Michael Connors, regional administrator of OSHA in Chicago. "Our goal is to have every employee go home healthy and uninjured at the end of the day."
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The partnership is committed to lowering the participating firms' injury and illness rates through increased workplace safety and health training and renewed attention to issues surrounding the safety of workers.
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Since its Strategic Partnership Program began in 1998, OSHA has formed more than 300 partnerships, affecting over 13,000 employers and 573,000 employees across the United States.
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NY Times Project Added to National OSHA Partnership with AMEC Americas

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OSHA and AMEC Americas will include the New York Times construction project in Manhattan under a renewed safety partnership.
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A national partnership between the federal agency and AMEC was established in 2003 and renewed in April. It encourages construction employers to improve safety and health and eliminate the most common workplace hazards in the industry. The New York Times site was incorporated into the partnership Nov. 8 in a signing ceremony at OSHA's Manhattan area office.
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OSHA partnerships are part of OSHA's ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of workers through cooperative efforts with employers, trade associations, and labor. During fiscal year 2005, OSHA created more than 50 partnerships to foster workplace safety and health.
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"We look forward to continuing our work with AMEC to spread the message of workplace safety and to have a positive impact among sub-contractors," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "The local partnership underscores the importance of employees' daily involvement in worksite safety and health."
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The New York Times project is a 52-floor, 1.6 million square-foot skyscraper under construction at 620 8th Ave. between 40th and 41st Sts. At peak, the project will involve over 800 employees and more than 55 sub-contractors. AMEC provides design, project delivery and maintenance support to clients in the oil and gas, transportation, industrial and infrastructure sectors.
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Key goals of OSHA partnerships are to:
  • áááááááá Reduce injuries at participating worksites to 30 percent below the national construction industry rate
  • áááááááá Expand awareness of the value of effective safety and health management systems
  • áááááááá Support and encourage subcontractors toward greater participation in OSHA's cooperative programs
  • áááááááá Convey safety and health best practices and injury/illness reduction lessons learned at participating worksites
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Washington Labor and Industries Manager to Chair National Safety Organization

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Steve Cant, acting assistant director of the safety and health division of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), has been elected chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association. The association includes 26 states and territories that run their own workplace safety and health programs rather than rely on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
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The association works directly with top federal safety and health officials to help craft national policies affecting employers in their states prior to policies being issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
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Cant, a certified industrial hygienist and a native of Everett who now resides in Olympia, is acting assistant director of the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act program at L&I. As chairman of the state plan association, Cant said he plans to continue the organizationÆs efforts to maintain as much flexibility as possible for members, which will allow for the most cost-effective and efficient use of limited state resources. CantÆs chairmanship is for two years. He previously served as the associationÆs chairman from 1997-1999.
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