Prepare for carbon monoxide leaks

by on January 3, 2012 · 2 Comments POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network
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If carbon monoxide (CO) leaked in your workplace, would your workers exit the area safely, or unknowingly stay put?

Example: Two Massachusetts workers in a boiler room weren’t aware that one boiler was leaking CO. One worker became dizzy. The other dialed for help. By the time responders arrived, one worker was suffering a seizure and the other was unconscious. Fortunately, both survived.

An emergency worker tested the room with a CO meter, and it read 900 parts per million (ppm). The OSHA limit for CO exposure is 50 ppm per worker.

Here’s how to protect your workers:

  1. 1. Identify locations
    First, it’s a good idea to identify on paper all the locations in your work area that are potential sources of CO. Those should include areas with fuel-burning appliances and gasoline-powered engines and tools.
  2. 2. Install CO monitoring
    Next, use the list to determine where CO monitoring systems, or at least CO detectors, should be installed. In the case above, a CO monitor would have warned the workers immediately.
  3. 3. Teach workers symptoms
    It’s also a good idea to teach all your workers the symptoms of CO poisoning. Those include headaches, dizziness, nausea and convulsions. Note: The two workers in this case later said they thought they suffered from heat stroke. Had they known the symptoms of CO poisoning, they probably would have exited the boiler room sooner.

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2 Comments on This Post

  1. Anonymous
    February 2, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Lori, What type of CO monitoring equipment do you recommend? I own a smaller company so I don’t want to install one of those expensive industrial CO detection systems. Is there something smaller and less expensive that can still get the job done?

  2. Anonymous
    February 2, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Lori, What type of CO monitoring equipment do you recommend? I own a smaller company so I don’t want to install one of those expensive industrial CO detection systems. Is there something smaller and less expensive that can still get the job done?

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