Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning
By Ashleigh Petersen
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Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning

Take 5 for Safety is a monthly article designed to give equipment and event rental stores the information they need to conduct a five-minute safety meeting on a particular topic. Below are talking points for this month’s meeting. The Take 5 for Safety signup sheet can be downloaded below. This can be used to take attendance during the meeting.

Introduction: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. People can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that smell and not know that CO is present.

How does CO harm you?

When breathed in, CO displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overcome people in minutes without warning — causing them to lose consciousness and suffocate. In order to protect yourself, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in your home and businesses. Existing detectors should be inspected to ensure they are in proper working order and not expired.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If a lot of CO is breathed in, it can result in loss of consciousness
or death.

Who is at risk in the equipment and event rental industry?

  • Welders
  • Garage mechanics
  • Diesel engine operators
  • Forklift operators

What can employees do to help prevent CO poisoning?

  • Report any situation that might cause CO to accumulate.
  • Be alert to ventilation problems — especially in enclosed areas where gases of burning fuels may be released.
  • Promptly report complaints of dizziness, drowsiness or nausea.
  • Avoid overexertion if you suspect CO poisoning and leave the contaminated area.
  • Tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to CO if you get sick.
  • Avoid the use of gas-powered engines, such as those in powered washers as well as heaters and forklifts, while working in enclosed spaces.

What can you do if you suspect that someone has been poisoned with CO?

  • Move the victim immediately to fresh air in an open area.
  • Call 911.
  • Administer 100 percent oxygen using a tightfitting mask if the victim is breathing.
  • Administer CPR if the victim has stopped breathing.

Warning: Rescuers may be exposed to fatal levels of CO poisoning. Rescuers should be skilled at performing recovery operations and using recovery equipment. Employers should make sure that rescuers are not exposed to dangerous CO levels when performing rescue operations.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the digital communications manager for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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