Tips to Mitigate The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can potentially put many workers at risk of injury or death. Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it displaces oxygen in the blood stream, thus depriving the brain, heart and other major organs of the oxygen they need. Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it is virtually undetectable without the use of a specific alarm system.

OSHA Standards for Carbon Monoxide Exposure

What are the OSHA standards for carbon monoxide exposure?

  • The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 parts per million (ppm). OSHA standards prohibit worker exposure to more than 50 parts of CO gas per million parts of air averaged during an 8-hour time period.

Some of the most common producers of carbon monoxide are internal combustion engines, portable generators, concrete cutting saws, space heaters, vehicles, forklifts, industrial equipment, and some appliances.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are tightness across the chest, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, and rapid breathing. If prolonged exposure occurs, symptoms will worsen and can lead to vomiting, muscle weakness and loss of consciousness.

Mild symptoms sometimes are mistaken for flu. Symptom severity varies depending on the level of carbon monoxide and duration of exposure.

Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms:

● Headache
● Fatigue
● Shortness of breath
● Nausea
● Dizziness

High-level carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms:

● Mental confusion
● Vomiting
● Loss of muscular coordination
● Loss of consciousness
● Death

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide positioning is to not have it present on a job site in the first place. Installing an effective ventilation system in your site or building, and having it routinely inspected to ensure its safe operation it the best way to be safe. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should be located throughout a building and especially in areas more likely exposed.

Alternatively, personal monitors should be distributed in areas with insufficient ventilation. If carbon monoxide levels are especially high, respirators and personal carbon monoxide monitoring equipment should be provided to workers.

It’s important to make sure your workforce is educated on the dangers of carbon monoxide and knows the signs of poisoning. If you, or someone on your job site has been exposed to carbon monoxide, immediately move to an area with fresh air.

If symptoms are severe, call 911 and administer 100% oxygen to the victim. Perform CPR if necessary. Do not attempt a rescue in an area where carbon monoxide levels are dangerously high unless you are trained to do so and use a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Know The Carbon Monoxide Safety Measures

Follow these safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in your workplace:

  • Install and maintain an effective ventilation system
  • Install CO monitors with auditory alarms
  • Prohibit the use of gas-powered equipment and tools in poorly ventilated areas
  • Use equipment powered by electricity or compressed air whenever possible
  • Never use a generator indoors
  • Ensure equipment, space heaters and the like are in proper working condition
  • Train workers on the sources and conditions in which CO is likely to be encountered, how to control those situations, the symptoms of CO poisoning, and how to respond to a suspected CO poisoning emergency.

Make your Work Site Safe. Don’t Risk a Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Don’t let a carbon monoxide exposure create a potential injury or death on your job site. Find out where the hazards come from and take steps to be prepared and safe.

Compliance Consultants, Inc. can assess your site and provide you with a plan on how to remove or mitigate exposure.

Get started now! Contact us today.