Safety Tip: Protecting Workers from Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning causes hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospital visits every year in North America, and the risks increase as windows and doors are closed during the winter months. Internal combustion engines are the most common source of CO in the workplace. There are also exposure risks in boiler rooms, warehouses and many other locations and occupations.

Here are some carbon monoxide safety tips for employers from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:

– Install an effective ventilation system that will remove carbon monoxide from work areas.
– Maintain water heaters, space heaters, cooking ranges and other potential CO-producing equipment in good working order.
– Use equipment powered by electricity, batteries or compressed air as an alternative to gasoline power.
– Install reliable CO detector alarms that give both visual and audible warnings.
– Don’t allow the use of gasoline-powered engines or tools in poorly ventilated areas.
– Test air quality regularly in areas where CO may be present, including confined spaces.
– Have employees wear a certified breathing apparatus or supplied-air respirator in areas with high CO concentrations.
– Test air quality before anyone enters confined spaces where CO is suspected.
– Educate workers about CO sources and symptoms, how to protect themselves, and how to respond in case of an emergency.

Employees can help prevent CO poisoning by reporting any potential hazards to the employer, and looking out for ventilation problems – especially in enclosed areas where gases of burning fuels may be released.

Breathe easy

ANSI CAUTION Respirator Required In This Area Sign

Wherever gasses are involved there is potential for disaster. This makes taking the proper safety precautions all the more worthwhile of an investment. Once you’ve taken the proper steps yo can breathe easy.