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GENERAL SAFETY - CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless  gas which is created by inefficient combustion emissions. The most common sources in industry are gasoline or diesel powered pressure washers, air compressors, forklifts or other petroleum fired machinery.

The chemical makeup of CO is a carbon molecule linked to an oxygen molecule. Carbon monoxide kills by binding up the hemoglobin in the blood. Since CO has an affinity for hemoglobin several hundreds of times greater than the oxygen that is ever present, that being about 200,000 parts per million in normal air. Therefore it takes only a small amount of CO to bind up a large amount of hemoglobin. This  decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues and  without oxygen, you will slowly suffocate to death.

What does this mean for workers? Carbon Monoxide will  affect workers as follows:

The level of CO mandated by OSHA as the maximum allowable for 8 hours is 50 parts per million. This is an extremely small amount of CO. To put this into perspective, think of a room that holds 1 million ice cubes and then remove 50 cubes from the room. Those 50 ice cubes are the maximum amount allowed by OSHA for workers to be exposed to over an 8 hour period.

What to do to prevent CO overexposure????

1. Inspect the jobsite and remove any internal combustion machinery located near a hatch or other opening that may cause exhaust fumes to enter the space.

2. VENTILATE, VENTILATE, VENTILATE! ! !

3. Frequently monitor workspaces for CO with testing equipment and observe employees for signs of CO exposure.

4. Train workers about the early symptoms of CO exposure.

 

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