Approximately 500 hundred people in the United States die of carbon monoxide poisoning every year, while 20,000 to 30,000 more, potentially including some in North Carolina, become sick from it. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is virtually undetectable by humans because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless. Burning certain fuels in poorly ventilated spaces can cause carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous levels. 

That appears to be what happened last week on a construction site in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Workers were preparing to pour concrete in a basement containing two gas-powered generators. Officials pointed to one of the generators as the source of the reported carbon monoxide leak.

At least nine of the workers suffered injuries because of the suspected leak. Though none were life-threatening, authorities reported that four of the workers were in serious condition as a result, while the other five received only minor injuries. The fire department had to lower a basket into the work area and haul the workers up out of the basement in order to rescue them. 

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, the recommended course of action is to keep generators outside the building, in a well-ventilated area, rather than running them inside enclosed spaces. Due to the failure of the site’s management team and contractor to maintain safe working conditions, the Department of Buildings for the city has cited them for safety violations.

The temptation to save money at the expense of worker safety is always present for employers. Employees who have come to harm as a result of this type of negligence may consider consulting an attorney about the possibility of taking legal action.