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CO safety tips

Carbon Monoxide safety tips

Indoor CO occurs throughout the year, but it becomes more dangerous during winter. That’s because doors and ventilation system dampers are kept closed. This can cause CO levels to rise to more than 10 times the permissible exposure level in a very short time.

The best way to avoid unsafe levels of forklift carbon monoxide is to prevent it from building up in the first place. This starts with knowing where forklift CO poisoning is most likely to occur. This includes:

  • Cold rooms
  • Controlled atmosphere rooms
  • Truck trailers
  • Sealed warehouses during fumigations
  • Tunnels
  • Underground storage facilities
  • Shipping containers
  • Poorly ventilated warehouse aisles

How to Avoid High Forklift Carbon Monoxide Levels

Any time a forklift engine is running, it is producing CO. This makes constant attention to indoor air quality mandatory.

Forklift trucks should be properly maintained. Forklift engines should be shut down when not being used. Your work site’s ventilation system should also be well-maintained at all times.

Once or twice a year, hire an emissions testing firm to analyze the CO levels from your forklift exhaust.  If needed, the technician can adjust the truck’s air and fuel mixture to control CO exhaust levels. Also, make sure the worksite has proper ventilation.  Keep exhaust fans running and dock doors open when the weather allows.

Forklift Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Wherever there are gas-powered forklifts, there are CO emissions. In 2017 in the USA, there were more than 2,000 OSHA violations that involved powered industrial trucks. Many involved carbon monoxide from forklifts working indoors or in confined spaces.

Use these techniques to keep CO levels within a safe range:

  • Post CO warning signs in areas where forklifts are used.
  • Don’t allow drivers to idle their trucks.
  • Keep fuel-powered forklift engines well maintained.
  • Keep forklift use to a minimum when possible.
  • Use personal CO monitors with alarms in forklift travel zones.
  • Use electric forklifts in unventilated areas.
  • Equip your forklifts with a catalytic converter (if possible) to reduce CO emissions.

Most important, train forklift workers and managers to recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. These can range from dull headaches to shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, and more.

Employers must clearly treat all areas with CO2 present as enclosed and hazardous areas. To prevent CO poisoning, always follow your company’s area guidelines. When in doubt, ask your safety supervisor.

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