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Carbon monoxide threat to general laborers, construction workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says recent incidents prompted a reminder to employers nationwide, including California, about the hazards posed by carbon monoxide exposure. The agency says all employees, including general laborers, construction workers and others, face the risk of being overcome by this deadly gas -- often called the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is odorless and colorless, and it can be undetected until it is too late to escape.

The threat exists wherever fuel-burning equipment is used in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Portable generators, space heaters, power tools, pumps, compressors, furnaces and welding equipment are all hazardous. Motorized vehicles and gas-powered forklifts also pose high risks. Proper ventilation might mitigate the risk of overexposure.

Because carbon monoxide is undetectable without specialty measuring equipment, learning about the symptoms of exposure is crucial. Workers must look out for red flags, including dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, chest tightness, nausea and vomiting. Failure to react to these symptoms could result in coma and death due to neurological damage.

General laborers, construction workers and other employees in California who are suffering the consequences of carbon monoxide exposure might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney with experience in looking after the rights of workers can assist affected workers and the surviving family members of workers who lost their lives. With the support of legal counsel, benefits to cover medical expenses, or burial and funeral costs where applicable, along with a financial package to make up for lost wages might be obtained.

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