Schemery Zicolello

Pennsylvania warehouse workers sick after carbon monoxide leak

It is not uncommon to hear of an employee getting injured on the job. Accidents happen and can often cause injuries. However, people may not realize that employees can also get sick from their workplaces. In some situations, the work environment is such that employees contract either permanent or temporary illnesses. Just like employees who are injured on the job, employees that get an illness from work can be compensated. Workers' compensation is available to pay for medical expenses, lost wages and, in some cases, pain and suffering.

One Pennsylvania workplace is now being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after employees got sick on the job. According to reports, the fire alarms went off at a warehouse owned by grocery store chain Trader Joe's. When firefighters arrived they discovered a carbon monoxide leak.

Once the leak was found, nearly 200 employees were evacuated from the warehouse. At this point, 18 employees were feeling sick and were taken to local hospitals. It is believed that the batteries for five forklifts malfunctioned and caused the carbon monoxide leak. Employees returned to work several hours after the accident.

If OSHA finds violations of safety regulations or unsafe working conditions, Trader Joe's may face fines or other penalties. OSHA will try to ensure that these regulations are followed in the future so that additional employees do not get hurt or sick.

Those who got sick from the carbon monoxide may have workers' compensation claims. They should not be responsible for paying for medical expenses, including ambulance rides or procedures done to help with the carbon monoxide poisoning. These workers, and all those who get sick at work, should focus on getting better, not on the financial consequences of the workplace illness.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "OSHA Investigating Carbon Monoxide Leak at Trader Joe's Warehouse," Sept. 26, 2012

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