Workplace Safety: Action Required When Jobs Are Literally Hazardous to Health

A Long Island restaurant manager recently died from carbon monoxide poisoning at a Legal Sea Foods restaurant in the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station.  A female co-worker had also collapsed at the restaurant and was hospitalized.  Emergency crews evacuated the building, which has now been condemned as being unsafe and unfit for human habitation.

Unfortunately, New York state fire codes do not require carbon monoxide detectors in commercial buildings unless people sleep there.  Investigators discovered a leak in the flue pipe of the water heater, and the restaurant was fined $2,000 as a result of the incident.

The restaurant had been inspected last March and inspectors found no issues at that time.  Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is hard to detect until it is almost too late – victims can feel dizzy quickly, and can be overcome by the deadly gas before they can react and escape.  Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague was the Legal Sea Foods restaurant manager who died in the incident; he was found in the basement of the restaurant and declared dead at a local hospital.

According to a CNN story, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz said that the tragic death “highlights the inadequacy of the codes for carbon monoxide detectors in commercial spaces…Stronger safety measures must be put in place.”


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