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Workplace Safety: What To Watch For as a Business Leader

Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of combustion. This gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so it can be very difficult to detect. CO prevents your body from absorbing oxygen properly, which deprives your heart, brain and other organs of the oxygen they need to function. Prolonged exposure to this gas can cause CO poisoning. Key symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Chest tightness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness

In severe cases, CO poisoning can lead to death. If your job puts you at a higher risk of CO exposure, it is especially important to understand the risks of CO poisoning and the ways you can avoid it. Here are some tips to protect yourself and your co-workers from CO poisoning:

  • Do not use gas-powered engines in enclosed spaces. If gas-powered tools are used in spaces with insufficient ventilation, CO accumulation is more likely and can occur faster. Be sure the space in which you are working is properly ventilated. Also, avoid using or running gas-powered engines near fresh air intakes, as CO could travel inside through the intake system.
  • Avoid overexertion in the presence of CO. As your body works harder, more oxygen is needed to maintain functionality. However, with CO in the air, your body will take in that gas (instead of oxygen) at an increased rate, speeding up the process of possible CO poisoning. If CO is suspected, stop working and leave the area immediately.
  • Know the proper procedure for handling a CO poisoning victim. If a co-worker is experiencing CO poisoning, move the victim to fresh air or an open space, then call 911. If they are not breathing, administer CPR (if you are trained to do so) until medical professionals arrive.
  • Report situations that may cause CO to accumulate. Consult your supervisor to discuss any issues that may arise regarding CO safety at work.

Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying

Bullying can be an unfortunate reality within the workplace. In fact, more than 60 million employees have been victims of workplace bullying in the United States, with nearly two-thirds (61%) of such bullying coming from supervisors or bosses. Workplace bullying can take many forms, including:

  • Verbal bullying—This type of bullying refers to gossip, malicious rumors and innuendos.
  • Intimidating bullying—This type of bullying involves threats, exclusion from social activities and targeted practical jokes.
  • Work performance-related bullying—This type of bullying entails wrongful blame or interfering with another employee’s work.

Bullying can cause adverse health effects, both physically and mentally. Victims of bullying may feel a sense of anxiety or dread when thinking about coming to work, lose their appetite or have trouble sleeping, and experience stomach pain and headaches, among other symptoms. Bullying can also affect a victim’s job performance, lowering their confidence and making them less productive. So, what can we do to prevent bullying?

  • Tell the bully their actions are unacceptable and firmly ask them to stop. If you are uncomfortable doing this on your own, go to someone you trust for help.
  • Keep a record of the bullying, if possible. This will make it easier to trace the behavior through time, leading to a higher likelihood that the bully will be implicated and the behavior will stop.
  • Do not retaliate. If you try to fight back against your bully, your actions could also be perceived as bullying, and you could be reprimanded.

If you notice a fellow employee getting bullied, the best rule of thumb is to speak up. Be sure to examine your own actions for appropriate behavior, and set a good example of this behavior for others. You can have a direct hand in making your workplace a healthy, positive environment for everyone.

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