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Carbon Monoxide- an Invisible Danger

- December 20, 2016 by Bruce Logan (View all posts by Bruce)

Winter is here and in much of the country that means cold weather.

Often, this also means that doors will be closed to conserve heat.  Gasoline and diesel powered motor vehicles, fork lift trucks, air compressors, space heaters, and pressure washers may remain operational—production must carry on after all. Any of these petroleum fired engines can produce carbon monoxide (CO) as part of incomplete combustion.  The replacement of fresh air from the outside, into the workplace, will be restricted when the doors are shut.  The result of these two factors could lead to what is commonly known as “carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Carbon monoxide is a clear and odorless gas. It kills by binding the hemoglobin in the blood.  A small amount of carbon monoxide (200,000 parts per million) is all that is needed to begin the effects by reducing the level of oxygen delivered to the body though the flow of blood.

OSHA provides an acceptability standard of only 50 parts per million in an eight hour work day.

Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (in order of severity) include:  headaches and dizziness, nausea, drowsiness or disorientation, unconsciousness and eventually death.

So, how can you recognize the presence of carbon monoxide?

These are a few suggestions to detect and reduce CO exposure:

  • Install a carbon monoxide monitor.  You can take a samples of the air in the workplace to monitor the presence.
  • Reduce the length of time that a petroleum powered engine is permitted to work indoors, or move it outdoor.
  • Ventilate the work space with ventilation fans, exhaust fans, or building openings.
  • Train employees on the symptoms and consequences of carbon monoxide in the environment.

 

Let us know how you’re preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in your work environment. Please share your suggestions and solutions below.

 

 

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