Forklift Safety – Carbon Monoxide Prevention Strategies

Posted by: admin on December 16, 2013

Forklift Safety – Carbon Monoxide Prevention Strategies

It is no secret that operating a forklift is one of the most hazardous jobs around. Forklifts rank six out of ten most frequently cited safety hazards according to OSHA. What is less well known is that it is dangerous to even work in the same warehouse as a forklift driver, especially if the vehicle is powered by a combustion of fuel. This is because a poorly maintained vehicle operated in an environment with inadequate ventilation can lead to the build-up of harmful carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.

Forklift Safety – Carbon Monoxide Prevention Strategies

Forklift Safety – Carbon Monoxide Prevention Strategies

The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu or a really bad hangover. First, those who are exposed will experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and drowsiness. In extreme cases, the victim will lose consciousness. At its worst, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.

What Employers Can Do to Avoid Excessive CO Emissions

Considering the costs of carbon monoxide poisoning in terms of workers compensation and fines, indirect costs of absenteeism and lost productivity and the human toll, prevention of excessive emissions is cheaper in the long term.

The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 parts per million (ppm) averaged over an eight-hour period. OSHA recommends that employers take the following precautions to reduce the potential for CO exposure in the workplace:

  • Install an effective ventilation system.
  • Maintain appliances in good working order. This includes apparatus like fuel-powered forklifts, cooking ranges, heaters.
  • Prohibit altogether the use of gasoline-powered tools or engines in enclosed areas.
  • Regularly test the air in areas of the workplace where CO emissions may be present.
  • Provide workers with personal CO alarms
  • Consider replacing fuel-powered industrial trucks with forklifts that are powered by electricity.

What Employees Can Do to Avoid Exposure to CO Emissions

Employees can be alert to potential sources of CO emissions and report any problems immediately. You should also promptly report any episodes of nausea, headache, etc., that might be associated with exposure to CO emissions. Visit your doctor if you think you may have been exposed and avoid the use of gas-powered engines altogether in enclosed areas.

What to Do If Your Colleague Is Exposed to CO Emissions

If you suspect that someone you are working with has been exposed to excessive CO emissions, move them immediately to an area where there is fresh air and notify the local first aid officer or the emergency services. Administer pure oxygen if possible. Be alert to the possibility that you, as the rescuer, may become exposed to fatal levels of CO poisoning.







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