Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous and widespread industrial hazards. In extreme cases, it can kill.
Workers have suffered from a range of short-term health effects. Some have collapsed at work and required resuscitation while others have died. That’s why even at work, it is important to stay vigilant.
Who is at risk?
You may be exposed to harmful levels of CO in cool stores, freezer rooms, breweries, warehouses, petroleum refineries, and steel coke ovens; or in one of the following occupations:
Before undertaking work using generators in confined or poorly ventilated areas, whether petrol, diesel or LPG, workers should consider another means of power. If there is no other source of energy available then only should a generator be considered.
Some of the precautions workers (or anyone using a generator) should take include:
What can employees do to help prevent CO poisoning?
Employees should do the following to reduce the chances of CO poisoning in the workplace:
How can you get more information on safety and health?
Employers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 to control risks for the health and safety of employees. These risks may include exposure to carbon monoxide.
As part of managing the risk associated with CO, all workers who could potentially be affected by CO should be provided with information, instruction and training on how to control this risk. Employers must also provide the supervision necessary to ensure effective risk controls for CO are implemented.
For further information, talk to your organisation’s OH&S officer or contact your state work health & safety regulator.