Avoid Carbon Monoxide Exposure at Work and Home


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5 Tips to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas. The danger of carbon monoxide is that it is odorless and tasteless. Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning do not usually notice any symptoms until it is too late. Even minimal exposure can result in serious brain injury and in some cases, death. In fact, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that there are 170 deaths per year as a result of carbon monoxide exposure to non-automotive consumer products. Visit the CPSC website for information about carbon monoxide poisonings.

At work, forklifts are a common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. At home, generators and other fuel burning machines are common causes of such poisonings. Here are some tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Install a working carbon monoxide detector and check it regularly, per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Many people purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes; employers do so as well. However, like with any other product, carbon monoxide detectors are not perfect. They can and do fail. Therefore, it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them.

2. Be sure gas/engine powered machines and appliances are installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

generator for home useGas powered machines and appliances, such as generators, are the main culprits for carbon monoxide poisonings at home and at work. If gas powered machines are not working correctly, the amount of carbon monoxide released into the air can double or triple within a short period of time. Within a few minutes, people can succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. Again, carbon monoxide is dangerous because it is odorless and tasteless.

3. Have gas/engine powered machines and appliances checked at least annually.

This is important for both residential and commercial use of gas powered machines. In addition, companies which lease or rent gas powered machines must perform reasonable maintenance. Failure to do so can result in liability when a machine causes a carbon monoxide injury or death.

4. Be sure not to operate gas/engine powered machines and appliances indoors.

Operating gas powered machines indoors increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Factory, machine and industrial workers who work in close proximity to gas powered machines, such as a forklift, are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In addition, during blackouts and during the winter months, homeowners use gas generators. Engine exhaust contains dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Operating a generator indoors creates a grave risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, generators should not be used indoors and should be placed no less than 20 feet away from the home. Those who use generators must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about proper operation of the generator.

5. Do not alter gas/engine powered machines.

Carbon monoxide poisonings are very common. Whether at work or at home, carbon monoxide is a dangerous, deadly gas.  When these accidents occur and the injuries are serious, the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey may allow the injured to recover in tort against multiple parties. It is always best to contact a lawyer with experience in handling equipment and tool defect cases, such as forklift defects.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Published: August 15, 2012; Updated: February 10, 2014