Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide is one of the most common industrial hazards.

Where does it come from?

Much CO comes from vehicle exhaust. Other industrial sources are small engines, such as fork lifts, and small engine powered tools like pressure washers and some welders. CO can also come from poorly working or exhausted furnaces and water heaters, blast furnaces, boiler rooms, and environmental tobacco smoke.

How can it hurt me?

The more carbon monoxide there is in the air and the longer a person is exposed to it, the greater the danger from CO poisoning. Exposure to carbon monoxide can result in:

  • headaches.
  • nausea.
  • drowsiness or fatigue.
  • lack of coordination.
  • permanent damage to the heart or brain.
  • death.

How can I protect myself?

Be alert to ventilation problems, especially in enclosed areas where gases of burning fuels may be released.

If you suspect the presence of CO, get out of the area immediately. Open doors or windows to let in fresh air, and turn off any equipment which might be contributing to the problem. Alert co-workers of the problem so they can evacuate. Don't go back into the space until it has been determined to be safe.

Report any of the symptoms of CO poisoning to your employer. If you are suffering flu-like symptoms, ask your healthcare professional if it could be CO poisoning. CO poisoning symptoms, and the danger of CO can last for many hours after exposure. If you are exposed, make sure that someone is monitoring you.

What should I do?

         Follow all of the safety and control policies and work practices which are designed to protect workers from CO exposure.

         Request that a CO alarm be installed, know how CO alarms operate, and what to do if they activate.

         Report the presence or suspected presence of CO to your employer.

         Know how to use and maintain all of the safety equipment which your employer provides.