Don’t be Overcome by Carbon Monoxide

Workers who operate equipment such as cutting saws, pumps and generators in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, even in areas that appear well-ventilated. According to sources, many people do not know that small gasoline-powered engines and tools produce high levels of CO. Because CO is colorless and odorless, workers can quickly be overcome. Opening doors and windows or using a fan does not guarantee safety.

Here are some tips for employers and workers who operate small gasoline-powered tools and machinery:

  • Do not operate gasoline-powered engines or tools inside a building or in a partially enclosed area unless the engine is located outside and away from air intakes.
  • Learn to recognize the symptoms and signs of CO overexposure: headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, changes in personality and loss of consciousness. Any of these symptoms can occur within minutes of exposure.
  • If you experience any symptoms, immediately turn off the equipment and get to fresh air.
  • Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air if they are available and can be used safely. If compressed air is used, place the gasoline-powered compressor outside and away from air intakes.

Use personal CO monitors when potential sources of CO exist. These monitors should be equipped with audible alarms to warn workers when CO concentrations are too high.

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