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Question icon I work as a garage mechanic and am concerned that I am exposed to dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide. What can I do to protect myself?

Answer icon Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that, when breathed, displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts can overcome you in minutes without warning-causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate.

Your employer can take steps to protect you and your coworkers from CO poisoning by installing an effective ventilation system, maintaining COproducing equipment and appliances in good working order, and installing CO monitors with audible alarms and issuing personal CO monitors, among other measures.

You and your coworkers, too, can help reduce the chances of CO poisoning in the workplace by:
• Reporting any situation to your employer that might cause CO to accumulate.
• Being alert to ventilation problems, especially in enclosed areas where gases of burning fuels may be released.
• Reporting complaints of dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, or nausea promptly.
• Avoiding overexertion if you suspect CO poisoning and leaving the contaminated area.
• Telling your doctor that you may have been exposed to CO if you get sick.
• Avoiding the use of gas-powered engines such as those in powered washers as well as heaters and forklifts while working in enclosed spaces.

If you suspect that someone in your workplace has been poisoned, quick action can save a life. Move the victim immediately to fresh air in an open area. Call 911 or another local emergency number for medical attention or assistance. Administer 100-percent oxygen using a tight-fitting mask if the victim is breathing, and administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the victim has stopped breathing. But remember, you may be exposed to fatal levels of CO in a rescue attempt. Rescuers should be skilled at performing recovery operations and using recovery equipment. Your employer should make sure that rescuers are not exposed to dangerous CO levels when performing rescue operations.

For more information, see the newly revised OSHA Fact Sheet, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, available on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov. Click on Publications under Newsroom . The website includes more information about CO, including the full text of OSHA's standards.
Question icon My crew and I work outdoors most of the day in the hot sun. How can we help protect ourselves from exposure to excessive heat and ultraviolet light?


Answer iconExcessive heat exposure can cause loss of consciousness, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To minimize the risk, schedule heavier work during cooler periods of the day, take frequent work and water breaks, and avoid strenuous work before adequate acclimation.

Excess exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation (UV) may lead to skin cancer and cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and other eye problems. Workers with fair skin or light-colored hair need to be especially careful in the sun.

The following steps can help protect you against UV radiation and skin cancer:

• Cover up with protective clothing that does not transmit visible light.
• Use a sunscreen with a Skin Protection Factor, or SPF, of at least 15. Apply it liberally at least 15 minutes before going outside, and Q A Q A Q A reapply it every 2 hours or more frequently after sweating profusely or being in the water.
• Wear a hat with at least a 2- to 3- inch brim to protect the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. Avoid caps that do not protect the back of the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop.
• Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation.
• Limit direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's UV rays are the most intense.

OSHA's Heat Stress Card (OSHA 3154) is available in English. To order extra copies, visit OSHA website at www.osha.gov. Click on Publications under Newsroom
Question iconI work for the federal government. Am I covered by OSHA?
Answer iconThe Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 directs the head of each federal agency to establish and maintain an effective and comprehensive occupational safety and health program consistent with OSHA standards. This means federal agencies must take the same steps required of private-sector employers to protect their employees. A newly revised OSHA fact sheet, Occupational Safety and Health for Federal Employees, explains the responsibilities of federal agencies and federal employees, as well as federal workers' rights regarding workplace safety and health. The fact sheet is available on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov. Click on Publications under Newsroom. OSHA Directive FAP 1.3, Federal Safety and Health Programs, also available on the website, explains the subject in greater detail.