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Work injury caused by carbon monoxide -- the silent killer

Business owners in Illinois must comply with safety regulations as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Those regulations include their responsibility to protect employees from known hazards and to inform workers of potential risks. Employers must provide safety training in hazard identification and what workers should do to avoid or prevent work injury.

Unfortunately, many employers neglect to inform workers about the hazards posed by carbon monoxide (CO). This is a particular danger in facilities where forklifts are operated in enclosed areas. CO forms when the combustion of gasoline, oil, kerosene, propane or other materials is incomplete. CO is known as the silent killer because workers in insufficiently ventilated areas are typically caught unawares.

Because they cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide, they might not be aware of the exposure to the deadly gas. When workers inhale CO, it replaces the oxygen in the blood, depriving the vital organs such as the brain and heart of essential oxygen. Another reason for the name silent killer is the fact that symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those experienced when coming down with the flu. Workers tend to continue working in the hazardous area despite feeling ill and feverish, not realizing that CO poisoning could cause instant death.

Employers in Illinois must comply with OSHA regulations to ensure proper ventilation and adequate personal protective equipment for employees at risk of work injury. Workers who suffered any ill effects from exposure to carbon monoxide can file workers' compensation benefits claims to recover medical expenses and lost wages. Resources are available to provide legal guidance throughout the claims process.

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