Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide


Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless, heavier-than-air gas that 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. The carbon molecule makes CO heavier than air and will not allow the lungs to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. Without oxygen, you will slowly suffocate to death.

What does this mean for workers? As the CO fills the space, it displaces oxygen and will affect workers as follows:

  • Slight headache and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness and a euphoric feeling
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

The level of CO mandated by OSHA as the maximum allowable for 8 hours is 35 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 35 cubes from the room. Those 35 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.
  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.
  • CO is a colorless, odorless and toxic gas
  • CO is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels in vehicles, generators, furnaces, charcoal grills, heaters, and other construction equipment
  • CO impedes the ability of blood to carry oxygen
  • CO can rapidly accumulate in areas that are well ventilated
  • Use of gasoline-powered tools indoors can be fatal
  • The symptoms of CO overexposure are: headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbance, changes in personality and loss of consciousness
  • If symptoms occur, immediately turn off equipment and go outdoors
  • Watch co-workers for the signs of CO poisoning