Avoid Dangers of Cold Weather Carbon Monoxide

January 08, 2018

January is National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Month and with recent temperatures becoming frigid across the state, South Carolina DHEC has some helpful tips to prevent your family from becoming victims to a silent killer, carbon monoxide.

Temperatures are dropping forcing many families to use space heaters in efforts to stay warm, but it's these colder months that pose a threat to families.

You can prevent carbon monoxide exposure by:

  • Having your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
  • Installing a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Seeking prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated
  • Not using a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window
  • Not running car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open
  • Not burning anything in or using a stove or fireplace that isn't vented
  • Not heating your house with a gas oven


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. It is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.

On average, nine South Carolinians die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning and these types of preventable events annually result in 243 hospitalizations and 1,713 visits to the emergency department (ED). Annually, carbon monoxide poisonings cost the state of South Carolina about $7.5 million in hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Hospitalizations and ED visits due to carbon monoxide poisoning have risen since 2000, by an average of 5% each year, which is statistically significant. Hospitalization rates due to CO poisoning have risen by 60% since 2000.

Sources of CO poisoning include gas-powered generators, charcoal grills, propane stoves, and charcoal briquettes for both cooking and heating indoors, motor vehicles, fire, boats, and power washers and other gas powered tools. 

At-risk populations include babies and infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia or respiratory illness.

Atlanta Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Atlanta, GA, on January 23-25 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Indianapolis Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Indianapolis, IN on January 30 – February 1 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Tampa Hazardous Waste and DOT Training 

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Tampa, FL, on February 5-8 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Snow Removal Hazards 

With the massive winter storm and frigid temperatures severely impacting the East Coast, OSHA urged all those involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.

Workers performing snow removal operations may be exposed to serious hazards, including slips and falls while walking on snow and ice. Other storm recovery work hazards include being struck by vehicles, carbon monoxide poisoning from misuse of generators, hypothermia, and being injured by powered equipment. 

Those working outdoors may also be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include when the shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite.

A full list of winter storm hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/index.html  or http://www.osha.gov.

Schnabel Foundation Company Fined $212,396 for Worker Death, Crushing Hazards

OSHA cited Schnabel Foundation Company for failing to protect employees against crushing hazards while they installed permanent foundation supports beneath the Woburn Public Library. The company faces $212,396 in proposed penalties.

On July 11, 2017, OSHA opened an inspection after learning that a 2,600-pound rock dislodged from the building’s foundation and fatally struck a Schnabel employee. The contractor was also cited for failing to instruct employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions while working beneath the foundation. OSHA cited the company for similar hazards in 2015 when an employee was pinned by a granite block that came loose.

“Failure to supply proper safeguards and training has led to a needless and avoidable death,” said OSHA Andover Area Office Director Anthony Covello. “It is imperative that employers train their employees, and equip them with the necessary tools to prevent crushing and other hazards.”

Maximum Fines Imposed on Motion Picture Company for Failing to Adequately Protect from Fall Hazards 

OSHA issued a serious citation and proposed penalties totaling the maximum allowable fine of $12,675, for the company’s failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards.  OSHA investigated Stalwart’s filming location in Senoia after a stuntman was fatally injured after falling more than 20 feet.

“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”

Casey Bortles Cited for Continued Safety Violations

OSHA has cited an Ohio roofing contractor for exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards. The contractor, Casey Bortles, faces proposed penalties totaling $91,629.

On Oct. 26, 2017, inspectors observed five roofers at a Waterville residential site working at heights greater than 8 feet without adequate fall protection, and employees using nail guns without eye protection. OSHA also cited the company for failing to train workers on fall hazards, and for not developing and maintaining an accident prevention program. Bortles has been cited for similar violations four times since 2014.

“This employer continues to expose employees to fall hazards by failing to comply with federal safety requirements,” said OSHA Toledo Area Office Director Kim Nelson. “Employers are responsible for ensuring employees are adequately protected from the hazards that exist at their worksites.”

Georgia Safety Stand-Down Focuses on Winter Weather Hazards 

OSHA and the Associated General Contractors of Georgia are partnering to sponsor a week-long campaign to reinforce the importance of workplace safety during the winter months. The cold weather Safety Stand-Down is scheduled for the week of Jan. 22-26, 2018. Events will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. EST.

Slips and falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry. Slick surfaces, strong winds, and below freezing temperatures present risks of serious or fatal injuries to employees who work outdoors.

During the Stand-Down, employers across Georgia are encouraged to voluntarily stop work for an hour to review best practices and train employees on cold weather-related hazards of their job; how to monitor and recognize the symptoms of cold stress; provide first aid and call for medical assistance; and select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.

Employers can register to participate in the Stand-Down on the AGC of Georgia website.

OSHA and Ironworkers Team Up to Protect Construction Workers

OSHA has signed an alliance to promote employee safety and health with the North Central States District Council of Ironworkers, the Ironworkers District Council of St. Louis and Vicinity, and Iowa OSHA.

The two-year, region-wide alliance will focus on reducing electrical, fall, struck-by, crushing and welding hazards, as well as the additional hazards associated with steel erection. Participants will also share information on OSHA campaigns, including the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, and the Safe + Sound Campaign for Safety and Health Programs.

“Workplace safety is achieved when everyone works together to recognize hazards and follow safety protocols and procedures,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille. “We look forward to sharing best practices, educating employers and employees, and ensuring that safety is not compromised on the job.”

Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Learn more about the program.

$40K Fine for Fatal Bee Attack on Tree Worker

Cal/OSHA has issued citations to Hadley Date Gardens Inc. of Thermal for serious workplace safety and health violations following a bee swarm that stung and killed a tree worker. The incident serves as a reminder that employers must protect tree workers from these types of hazards.

On July 3, 2017, a tree worker was spraying water on date palm fruit from the elevated bucket of a spraying rig when a beehive was disturbed. The bees repeatedly stung the worker, who suffered anaphylactic shock and died at the site.

“Recognized workplace hazards for tree workers include bee and other harmful insect exposure,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must identify and evaluate workplace hazards, and provide appropriate personal protective equipment and effective training to their workers.”

Cal/OSHA issued four citations totaling $41,310 in proposed penalties for workplace safety and health violations, two of which were classified as serious accident-related. Hadley Date Gardens, Inc. failed to evaluate the worksite for hazardous bee and insect exposure, and failed to establish appropriate safety protocols, which include providing appropriate personal protective equipment and training that could have prevented this incident.

Cal/OSHA’s Tree Work Safety guidelines specifically cite bee stings as a potentially fatal hazard of which employers must be aware.

OSHA Partnership with Wisconsin Contractors for Safety on Dorm Jobsite

OSHA and Miron Construction Company Inc. have signed a strategic partnership to promote worker safety and health on the dormitory renovation project at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The partnership will develop effective safety and health training programs and procedures; identify common construction hazards such as falls, electrical, struck-by, caught-in, silica, asbestos, lead, heat stress, crane collapse, noise, and carbon monoxide; and encourage worker participation in employer safety and health programs.

“We are pleased that all of the partners recognize that a comprehensive safety and health management system that incorporates management and labor input has a positive impact on employee safety in a high-hazard work environment,” said OSHA Eau Claire Area Office Director Mark Hysell.

Also participating in the partnership agreement are the Wisconsin Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program, 23 contractors and subcontractors, five local trade unions, and an insurance risk consultant.

Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA works with employers, employees, professional and trade associations, labor organizations, and other interested stakeholders to establish specific goals, strategies, and performance measures to improve worker safety and health.

Proud of your NC Safety Program? Apply for a Safety Award

The N.C. Department of Labor has begun accepting applications from businesses that qualify for a workplace safety award. Safety awards are presented to companies throughout the year that have demonstrated above-average worker safety and health programs.

“Our safety awards program recognizes employers and employees that are committed to promoting safe work environments in their communities,” state Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “It is always a great honor to recognize those businesses and organizations that go beyond the standard, for a good safety record is something they can be quite proud of.”

Businesses that qualify for the award must meet two requirements. They must be free of fatalities at the site for which they are applying. The site’s injury and illness rate also must be at least 50% below that of their industry’s average rate.

Award recipients will be honored in their communities throughout the state at safety awards banquets co-sponsored by the N.C. Department of Labor, local chambers of commerce and other organizations.

For more information on the Safety Awards Program or to download an application, visit www.labor.nc.gov/safety-and-health/recognition-programs/safety-awards-program. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 16.

Safety News Links 

Court of Appeals Rejects Industry Challenge to Silica Rule

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Non-Occupational Uses of Respiratory Protection – What Public Health Organizations and Users Need to Know

OSHA Penalties Increased

OSHA Omits News in News Release

Button Batteries Create New Safety Challenges

New California Law Will Require Manufacturers to Disclose Ingredients in Cleaning Products, Air Fresheners, and Automotive Products