RMSC Safety Sentinel- December 2016

Safety Sentinel Header APNLSafety Sentinel – December 2016

Carbon Monoxide – Hazard Overview

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless odorless and tasteless gas that is toxic when inhaled into the lungs and acts as a chemical asphyxiate. Carbon Monoxide is virtually undetectable and can overcome workers without warning.  It is a common atmospheric hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of natural gas and other material containing carbon such as gasoline, wood, or oil. It is responsible for more than half the poisoning fatalities in the industrial work environment because it has no warning properties.

Carbon Monoxide interferes with the body’s ability to carry oxygen to tissues and vital organs when CO is inhaled into the lungs it accesses the body’s blood stream. Through the circulatory system CO bonds to the red blood cells which think it is oxygen.  Carbon monoxide is absorbed by hemoglobin in the red blood cells up to 200 times more rapidly than oxygen this results in the displacement of oxygen, which reduces the uptake of oxygen into the body.

Who is at Risk?

Sources like internal combustion engines are a concern to workers because the can form localized high-hazard areas with poor ventilation. Potential sources for CO included vehicles, portable generators, gasoline powered tools and equipment, natural gas heaters and boilers.

Common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure include:

Headache                              Weakness                              Dizziness                                Upset Stomach

Vomiting                                Chest Pain                             Confusion

How to Respond to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

If you suspect someone has carbon monoxide poisoning immediately move the victim to fresh air in an open area. Call 9-1-1 for urgent medical attention.  The victim is likely to needing the administration of medical oxygen.

What should employers do?

Employers can control carbon monoxide by installing an effective ventilation system that will remove the hazard from work areas. Never allow employees or contractors to use gasoline powered engines in poorly vented areas.  Installation of a carbon monoxide monitoring system equipped with audible alarms is also advisable.  Personal and system based alarms are available to guard against this hazard.  Regularly test problem areas using proper gas detectors.  Educate the workforce about possible sources and conditions that might cause CO exposure.

What can employees do?

All employees should report any work-related activities that might involve working in enclosed spaces where carbon monoxide can accumulate. Be alert to any ventilation issues, report faulty system components immediately.  Be aware of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure and be aware of workers around you.

For more information on loss control services contact Jeff Rausch, email: jrausch@rmsc.com, P: 502-708-3124   www.RMSC.com

RMSC has exercised due and customary care in producing this newsletter but has not independently verified information provided by others. No other warranty, express or implied, is made with regard to the content of this newsletter. Therefore, RMSC assumes no liability from any loss resulting from errors, omissions or misrepresentations made by others. The use of this information by third parties shall be at their own risk and RMSC accepts no duty of care to any such third party.

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