Victor Irizarry, a 30-year-old worker, tragically died on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 while on his Long Island work site of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Irizarry, who was an employee of Suffolk Excavating, was working on a residential work site in Fort Salonga, Long Island. He was approximately 10 feet underground, removing silt from the bottom of a drainage pipe, when he reportedly stopped responding to his coworkers, according to Suffolk County Police. A coworker tried to go down into the pipe as well to rescue Irizarry, but had to return above ground because he felt burning in his nose and throat.
Firefighters from the Kings Park Fire Department responded to the site and were able to pull Irizarry from the pipe. He was immediately taken to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, but unfortunately, he could not be saved and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
According to police, the fire department found carbon monoxide levels at the work site to be dangerously high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been alerted of the accident and is investigating.
We send our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Irizarry’s loved ones during this difficult time.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas. It is completely undetectable without an alarm or other CO detector, which means it can be quite dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not taken. According to OSHA, carbon monoxide is a “common industrial hazard” that results from the “incomplete burning of material containing carbon, such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal or wood.”
Construction workers, especially excavation workers, are at risk of being exposed to higher levels of CO because they often work with pipes below ground that contain gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning is reversible, but only if caught in time. If someone is exposed to high levels of CO and does not get treatment right away, they could be at risk of permanent brain or heart damage, or death.
Employers and employees can both play a role in protecting workers from carbon monoxide poisoning. According to OSHA, employers can provide their employees with personal CO monitors, regularly test the air in spaces where CO might be present (especially in small, confined spaces), and have workers tested for oxygen sufficiency if they are going to be entering an area where carbon monoxide is suspected. On the other hand, employees can help prevent CO poisoning by staying alert to any ventilation issues, and reporting any risky situation or potential symptoms of CO poisoning to your employer.
Workers should know that according to OSHA standards, all workers have a right to a safe workplace and work conditions that do not put workers at risk of serious harm or injury. Workers also have the right to receive safety information and training in a language they understand. If an employer or other party in charge of the work site is negligent in providing these requirements and a worker is harmed, the injured worker may be legally entitled to compensation.
If you or a loved one has been harmed or fatally injured in a work accident or a work accident involving hazardous substances, you are not alone. The personal injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have obtained compensation for clients in numerous construction accident cases, and understand the pain and confusion you are likely feeling. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form to discuss your case with an expert attorney today.