What Should I Do if I Was Exposed to Carbon Monoxide at Work?

What Should I Do if I Was Exposed to Carbon Monoxide at Work?

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What Should I Do if I Was Exposed to Carbon Monoxide at Work?

No one expects to work in an environment where they could be needlessly exposed to dangerous chemicals or gasses. But if this happens to you, you need to know what to do next and how to proceed. You might need to file a work injury or work illness claim right away, and this is one of the best ways to protect your rights to get compensated for your illness and the related medical expenses. 

If you were exposed to carbon monoxide at work, you may have grounds for a worker's compensation claim. Filing a claim in a timely fashion is necessary in order to protect your right to move forward and to recover potential compensation. The support of an experienced attorney is instrumental when guiding navigating through this process. Knowing what to do after you've been exposed to carbon monoxide at work can be very difficult for someone who is coping with the immediate aftermath of these physical symptoms. 

In those situations, you deserve to have the support of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who can help give you further information about what to expect and some of the challenges that you might experience. You need to report your injury as soon as possible to your employer to protect your right to recover compensation.

This is also especially important because other employees may be exposed to carbon monoxide as well. Begin by understanding the exposure risk to carbon monoxide to be sure that this is the issue that has caused your current condition. You may speak to your medical professional and receive a diagnosis based on the details that you have provided. It is important not only to notify your employer because you'll be seeking medical care and potentially filing a workers' compensation claim for your carbon monoxide situation, but also because it may be making others ill in the workplace. 

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  • What Is Carbon Monoxide and Why Is It Dangerous? 

    Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. It is present in items such as tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust. It comes about as a result of incomplete combustion of oil, coal, or wood. One of the most common causes of carbon monoxide in the workplace is the use of an internal combustion engine.

    This means that any people who work around places like breweries, boiler rooms, refineries, steel, paper, or pulp producers, marine terminals, furnaces, or ovens all face an increased risk of exposure to carbon monoxide in the workplace. 

    This can leave an injured employee to wonder what to do if exposed to carbon monoxide at work. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because many people do not realize that they have come into contact with carbon monoxide until it is too late. Over 400 people every single year in the United States die as a result of non-fire related and unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. It also contributes to more than 4,000 hospitalizations each year and over 20,000 emergency room visits. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen immediately or overtime in response to low-level releases of carbon monoxide because it easily penetrates ceilings and walls.

  • What Happens After an Exposure? 

    Recognizing the signs and symptoms can help you when you're trying to figure out what to do if exposed to carbon monoxide at work. You will want to rule out any other potential medical conditions but also get immediate treatment if this situation impacts you. This means that you would need to consult with a doctor and undergo testing if necessary. 

    Exposure may not be immediately detected or suspected. This is because carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are very similar to the flu, including weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Chest tightness can also occur, but suffocation and loss of consciousness can happen if significant exposure occurs.

    In the event that severe oxygen deficiency impacts a person's brain, it can cause irreversible damage to the brain and other parts of the body. It is necessary to get prompt medical attention in the event of sudden carbon monoxide exposure. Awareness and prevention are key, but if this happens in the workplace, this needs to lead someone to get immediate help and have the workplace tested. The biggest danger with carbon monoxide is that it is not easily detected. Unfortunately, several thousands of people who work in unions and other high carbon monoxide exposure situations could become sick very quickly. Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream through the lungs and then combines with hemoglobin. This poisonous gas combines with hemoglobin at a rate that is 210 times faster than oxygen does, meaning that carbon monoxide can enter the bloodstream first, even when the person has plenty of oxygen in their immediate area.

  • How Long Does Carbon Monoxide Last? 

    All carbon monoxide is typically eliminated from the bloodstream within eight to 10 hours after exposure ceases. After carbon monoxide has been detected, all employees should be removed from the area. The current standard established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is 50 parts of carbon monoxide per million parts of air averaged over the course of eight hours. If you believe that you have been exposed to carbon monoxide and have gotten sick as a result of it, you may need to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. This can also raise many different questions about what to do if you've been exposed to carbon monoxide at work, as it relates to your ability to recover compensation. You may need to file a worker's compensation claim immediately to protect your rights to medical attention.

    You may also need to attend medical appointments based on the requirements of your employer, but it is also important to keep your own notes about the entire situation. This is in the event that your claim is denied so that you have the best possible opportunity to work directly with an attorney who can help you to recover the necessary compensation for your illness. Make sure that you keep any notes and any concerns you've had about whether or not carbon monoxide testing happened in the workplace or whether or not you filed any previous complaints about carbon monoxide issues in the workplace. Schedule a time to meet with an experienced and a dedicated lawyer as soon as possible to protect your right to recover compensation.

  • Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me? 

    One reason that some people are hesitant to file a workers' compensation claim over carbon monoxide poisoning is that they're afraid that their employer will retaliate against them. You need to report a carbon monoxide poisoning event and any associated medical injuries as soon as possible after it happened. If you fail to file a workers' compensation claim in a timely manner, you could lose out on the opportunity to get your medical bills covered. 

    There are certain laws and protections for employees who have been hurt on the job, including those who have developed occupational illnesses such as carbon monoxide poisoning. The employer should do their due diligence to look for ways to minimize the possible exposure risk for carbon monoxide, such as installing detectors and completing regular testing. If the employer was negligent or reckless in any way, this information could lead to other lawsuits or fines. 

    As a legal worker, an employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a workers' compensation claim. If you have been legitimately injured or developed an illness on the job because of their exposure problem, you need to report these concerns to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. If your employer retaliates against you or otherwise punishes you for filing a legitimate work injury claim, you could have grounds to pursue your own lawsuit against them. No matter which route you proceed, it is important to have legal counsel in your corner who can help you from beginning to end. A lawyer who can tell you more about your rights after your employer has retaliated against you can assist you with filing a separate claim. 

  • How Do I Prove I Got Poisoned on the Job? 

    It is bad enough to realize that you've developed carbon monoxide poisoning, but it can be even more frustrating if your employer alleges that you might have been exposed to this in another way. Perhaps your strongest evidence is if you are tested for carbon monoxide poisoning and if the area in which you were working indicates signs of high levels of carbon monoxide. Another way to support the legitimacy of your claim is if other employees got sick as well, especially if they were close to you and during the times you were also at work. Your personal injury lawyer or workers' compensation attorney can assist you with gathering additional evidence to support your claim. You might have to show that this is the only scenario in which you were possibly exposed to high levels of this gas. 

    Contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get more information on how to move forward.

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