15 JANUARY 2003

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OHSA concerned about CO inhalation on workplace

The Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) has drawn attention to the recent deaths of two young persons caused by the inhalation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) by reminding employers of their legal obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all their employees through suitable ventilation and keeping all equipment and machinery in good working order, as according to the 2000 OHSA Act.

The authority said that CO is produced by the incomplete combustion of gaseous, solid or liquid fuels and could be generated whenever any fuel is being burnt. Examples of such situations may be a stand-by generator in an establishment, a vehicle operating in an enclosed area or a gas heater in an office.

"CO is highly poisonous, able to cause brain damage or death even at very low levels of concentration. It is in fact widely known as the ‘silent killer’ because it is virtually undetectable to the human senses. You cannot see, taste or smell it."

The authority said visible signs of CO presence include yellow or brown staining around or on appliances, pilot lights which frequently blow out and increased condensation inside windows.

Symptoms of CO inhalation include fatigue, headaches, nausea, chest pains, sudden giddiness when standing up, sickness, diarrhea, stomach pains and erratic behavior.

"If you suspect that an appliance or machine is producing CO, switch it off, open doors and windows to ventilate the room and seek medical help. Definitely do not sleep in that room. Call the supplier or a competent person to repair and certify the appliance," the authority warned.

The Authority extended its condolences to the family members of the two victims.


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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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