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In order to keep employees safe from carbon monoxide exposure and prevent injury or death from poisoning, employers need to provide not only education and training but proper safety equipment to alert workers of hazardous situations. A toxic gas detector will help workers know when they need to evacuate an area due to the presence of dangerous gases.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, carbon monoxide is often called a "silent killer" because detection is impossible without the safety equipment.
There are several sources that can produce carbon monoxide including generators and gas-powered equipment, devices commonly found in factories and other work sites. Vehicles also emit carbon monoxide, which is dangerous if the exhaust has nowhere to escape in places like garages and other poorly ventilated areas. The USFA said the improper burning of fossil fuels such as methane, natural gas, propane and gasoline will lead to the production of carbon monoxide.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency said symptoms of mild exposure to the toxic gas include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.
OSHA reminds employers to keep workers safe
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reiterated to employers their responsibility to ensure employee safety and prevent exposure to carbon monoxide while at work. According to OSHA, the gas can be lethal.
A warehouse employee in New England died earlier this year after exposure to carbon monoxide. OSHA said the man was found unconscious and seizing due to carbon monoxide poisoning while other workers in the facility became sick from exposure to the gas. In a report, OSHA noted the windows and doors of the facility were closed to prevent heat from escaping on a cold day. There was also a lack of proper exhaust ventilation, which aided in the presence of high levels of carbon monoxide.
OSHA said power tools, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, space heaters and furnaces, often found in factories and other facilities, can produce carbon monoxide and potentially cause fatalities and worker injury.
The exposure limits set by OSHA are 50 parts per million of air during an eight hour work shift, the federal administration said.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.