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How to Avoid The Silent Killer At Work

When most of us talk about carbon monoxide poisoning we’re more familiar with risks in the context of the home. Images are rife of the “silent killer” afflicting unfortunate families who’ve had their whole house furnace or gas stove malfunction or perhaps some who’s been foolish enough to start a car in the garage without first opening the garage door.  While these risks are real threats, home is by far not the only place where risks from carbon monoxide poisoning exist. In fact, many workers are exposed to these risks daily. Educating your workers as to who’s most at risk, how to avoid those risks, and how to recognize the symptoms makes everyone on your crews safer.

What Generates Carbon Monoxide?

Gasoline-powered tools and generators produce carbon monoxide in quantities that can easily harm workers in spaces that aren’t well-ventilated. Concrete saws, augers, and jack hammers are often used in areas that are semi-enclosed. Portable generators and gasoline-powered hydraulic pumps are two other common sources of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Properly ventilating workspaces is the only way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. When using power tools in semi-enclosed spaces improving ventilation may involve the use of fans to pull fresh air and remove the old air. Opening all windows and doors will also help prevent harmful levels of carbon monoxide from building up. When using a portable generator on a job site be mindful to place it far away from buildings to allow it to ventilate properly.

Since carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, it’s important to educate your crews on the symptoms that are often associated with carbon monoxide poisoning. Those suffering from elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the blood include headaches, dizziness, tightness in the chest, vomiting, and drowsiness. Workers who are experiencing any of these effects should be taken outdoors immediately.

Portable generators and gasoline-powered tools are the lifeblood of many businesses in the field of construction. So educating your crews to the risks associated with carbon monoxide makes a lot of sense. Keeping your people safe means training them to the risks that come with their work. Businesses always come out ahead when workers’ safety is top priority.

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