Posted On: December 12, 2008 by Steven J. Malman

Chicago Worker Dies From Carbon Monoxide Intoxication

A Chicago worker died last Friday after he was exposed to carbon monoxide in a boiler room at a Des Plaines apartment building. Robert Waszak was discovered after the company he worked for called police to notify them that they couldn’t locate the 63-year-old worker. Des Plaines Fire Chief Randy Jaeger says they found Waszak unresponsive and unconscious following the Illinois work accident.

Jaeger also reported that while investigating Waszak’s death, firefighters heard the sound of a carbon monoxide detector. CO levels of more than 400 parts per million was discovered in one of the buildings. A CO level of 50 is considered normal. Everyone was evacuated from the building.

A 1400 parts per million CO reading was found in the furnace room. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office determined that Waszak’s primary cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Heart disease was noted as the second cause of death. Waszak had just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, who he had been with since they were 5th graders.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 10,000 people a year lose at least one day of regular activity or seek medical help because of CO intoxication.
- 1,500 people die because they were accidentally exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide.
- Exposure to CO can lead to dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, heart palpitations, vomiting, unconsciousness, brain damage, birth defects, and death.

Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of intoxication death.

Employers are supposed to protect their employees from exposure to hazardous substances while on the job. When exposure to CO or another toxic substance causes injury or death, the worker or his or her family may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, there may be other parties that can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death, such as a property owner, a product manufacturer, or another third party.

Worker dies accidentally from CO fumes, DesPlaines TImes, December 8, 2008

Carbon Monoxide Claims Life Of Worker, Journal & Topics, December 10, 2008

Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Carbon Monoxide Intoxication -- A Preventable Environmental Health Hazard, CDC

The Law Offices of Steven J. Malman & Associates is a Chicago personal injury law firm that represents injured workers. We have helped many workers and their families obtain their workers’ compensation benefits, as well as receive personal injury compensation from negligent third parties.

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