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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Carbon Monoxide Hazards In Winter

Carbon monoxide hazards spike in winter when heaters and fuel-gobbling equipment are used indoors. Beware of poisoning from odorless carbon monoxide.

Take three minutes to hear this important podcast about the dangers of CO, the invisible toxic gas.

Dan Clark spells out carbon monoxide hazards and solutions for both the workplace and home.


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Dan Clark: Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious hazard any time of year but it’s especially dangerous during winter when heaters and other fuel-burning equipment are used indoors or near workers. Find out what steps you can take in your workplace and at home to prevent a potentially fatal situation.

Hi, I’m Dan Clark with The Safety Brief. We take on health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply.

Recently a family was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in their car during a snowstorm. Snow blocked the car’s exhaust pipe and carbon monoxide filled the vehicle.

Situations like this one are too common and it’s just too late before anyone realizes anything is wrong.

The leading months for CO poisoning are November through February.

WHAT IS IT? Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, invisible gas produced by the incomplete burning of fuel. In the workplace, it can be produced by heating systems, generators, vehicles and any other gas powered engines.

Additionally, gas stoves, camping stoves and other appliances can produce carbon monoxide.

PROBLEM SITUATIONS. Trouble can happen in the workplace, especially in winter. Here are some examples:

• Letting a vehicle warm up in a garage or too close to a building. CO can build up.

• Running a generator or other engine indoors.

• Poor ventilation.

• Utility vents and air intakes can become blocked by snow and trap gases indoors. Brush snow away from vents and shovel away any snow drifts near vents.

OTHER SOLUTIONS. Extra suggestions for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in winter come from the CDC, The Centers For Disease Control:

[shadowbox] 1. Have working CO alarms.

2. Keep running vehicles, generators and other gas powered engines out of enclosed spaces such as garages or basements.

3. Keep vehicles, generators and any of those other gas powered engines at least 20 feet away from open doors, windows and vents.

4. Know the signs of CO poisoning — and this is important —dizziness, headache, drowsiness, confusion, rapid breathing. That sounds like me on a Monday morning but no, like I said, it’s serious. Get medical attention if someone experiences these symptoms.

5. At home, never try to heat your living space with your gas stove or oven. And cooking inside with a hibachi is off-limits!

That’s all for this episode on Carbon Monoxide Hazards in Winter. Join me again for a review of a decent hammer drill and more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s always-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.


Images 2014 U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission

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