Workers Hospitalized for CO Exposure

Friday, May 22, 2015 @ 04:05 PM gHale

Eighteen workers ended up hospitalized after exposure to deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas levels of up to 6.71 times the permissible limit at the JRI Holdings Inc. facility in Springfield, MO, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA investigators determined the incident happened when employees in November were testing a commercial industrial parts washer powered by two natural gas heaters. Employees were working inside a building with its doors closed because of cold temperatures, which limited ventilation. The Springfield-based company manufactures industrial parts for washers.

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JRI Holdings ended up cited by OSHA for one willful and three serious safety violations for failing to provide respiratory protection, monitoring and to ventilate the work site adequately. Proposed Fines are $70,700.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it’s odorless, tasteless and invisible,” said Barbara Theriot, OSHA’s area director in Kansas City, MO. “Overexposure can cause headaches, vomiting and death. Companies using heaters and other products that produce this deadly gas must make sure spaces are well-ventilated and that workers use protective equipment and monitor for exposure.”

Blood samples indicated that workers suffered exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide on the job site, resulting in a willful violation.

OSHA inspectors also cited JRI Holdings for one serious safety violation for exposing workers to fall hazards because open-sided platforms lacked guardrails. The company also failed to determine if hazardous conditions existed and to provide personal protective equipment.

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