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Workplace injury after carbon monoxide exposure kills worker

Operators of heavy motorized equipment likely realize that their careers pose hazards of potentially severe injuries, and even death, on a daily basis. Workers in Oklahoma, especially those who operate forklifts, may want to learn about the circumstances of the death of a forklift operator in another state. The tragic workplace injury that lead to his death occurred in March at a carpet company.

A part-time worker operated a forklift inside the building where he was moving stock. A colleague illustrated how he became aware of the symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide, and that man left the building. The forklift operator apparently experienced the same problem, because a driver of the company later found him in the restroom in an unconscious state. The man subsequently died.

The family of the dead worker was initially informed that he had died from cardiac arrest, but was subsequently informed by the coroner that carbon monoxide caused his death. It is the responsibility of employers to provide safe working environments and to abide by the strict safety rules as prescribed by OSHA. By instructing the worker to operate the forklift in an enclosed area where the carbon monoxide could not escape, the company potentially disregarded the safety of their employee.

The carpet company was cited and fined by OSHA; however, the family of the deceased forklift operator has the right to recover damages. Any family whose loved one has died after suffering a workplace injury may be able to claim benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance fund. Oklahoma families who are unsure of the claiming procedures, or whose claims were denied, may want to know that there is help available to guide them through the process and pursue the recovery of medical and end-of-life expenses, along with survivor benefits.

Source: myrecordjournal.com, "OSHA fines Middletown company after carbon monoxide death", Mary Ellen Godin, June 7, 2014

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