Most people associate the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning while at home, but it’s important to know that workers on job sites are also at risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
Carbon monoxide is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds; it forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, such as when operating a stove or an internal combustion engine in an enclosed space.
Carbon monoxide is an especially dangerous hazard because it is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Carbon monoxide attacks red blood cells when it enters into the system, therefore it attacks the ability for the body to absorb and distribute oxygen to the body.
Carbon monoxide exposure symptoms are a dull headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.
If anyone on the jobsite is feeling these symptoms look for sources of carbon monoxide and immediately take the person into a fresh air environment. If carbon monoxide poisoning is not treated it can cause permanent brain damage, damage to the heart, and even death.
There are many places where workers can be exposed to carbon monoxide while on the job. Some likely places for exposure are construction sites; job site trailers with gas heaters; warehouses; pulp, paper and steel production facilities; around loading docks and any place where fuel-powered tools and equipment are used.
You should also be careful if you are a:
- Forklift operator
- Garage mechanic
- Construction Worker
- Diesel engine operator
CARBON MONOXIDE SAFETY
Before work commences, check levels of carbon monoxide. Be aware of where gas-powered equipment is being used and monitor levels in those areas. When working in an enclosed area, monitor carbon monoxide levels in the work area. While working, have a detection/warning system that indicates when carbon monoxide is present at levels that are harmful to workers.
Motor vehicles are a common source of carbon monoxide. Do not leave vehicles running in areas where employees are working at levels lower than the vehicle. For example, do not leave a vehicle running near a trench as the vehicle exhaust will flow into the trench, causing levels of carbon monoxide to increase and put workers at risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
Gas-powered tools produce carbon monoxide while in use. Ensure that there is proper ventilation available. When working inside an enclosed part of a structure, make sure there is adequate cross ventilation. If needed, position a fan near an opening to the outside to improve air circulation. Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air, if available.
When gas-powered generators are being used, they must be placed in an open, well-ventilated area with at least four feet of clear space round all sides of the unit. When placed close to the building, exhaust can flow into the structure. Never use a gas generator indoors, or in partially opened spaces, such as a garage, shed or storage trailer.
Fuel Burning Heaters
Heaters are common in the winter on jobsites. Ensure that exhaust ventilation is provided to avoid a build-up of carbon monoxide in a work area. Ensure that employees have been properly trained on the use of heaters that can operate on either propane or natural gas. Each type of gas requires a different pressure and carbon monoxide can build up if the correct pressure is not selected. Lock the selector valve in place after gas is selected to avoid problems.
If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning get to fresh air right away and seek immediate medical attention.
Because Neff Rental employees work around equipment that produces carbon monoxide, branch-level safety training helps ensure that the company’s workers are not exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and are aware of the symptoms and safety protocols should accidental exposure occur. For more information about Neff Rental, visit www.NeffRental.com , or call 888-709-NEFF.