Forklifts and The Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Forklifts and The Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Forklifts powered by petrol, diesel, or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) release a potentially lethal gas called carbon monoxide.

Proper Ventilation is Vital

When a forklift is used indoors in a plant or warehouse without adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can build up very quickly in the immediate environment. This is probably why large home improvement stores have a large door open because many times there is a forklift doing work inside the store during business hours.

One of the problems with this poisonous gas is that it has no taste or smell. This means that a forklift operator or another worker in the vicinity can inhale the gas without even realizing it.

When it reacts with the lungs, it can make workers sick, and it can kill. Proper equipment is essential to detect the presence of carbon monoxide in a closed environment.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning among Workers

A worker who is exposed to carbon monoxide emanating from a forklift will typically develop a headache, which is the first symptom of moderate carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of the other mild symptoms that should indicate exposure to carbon monoxide include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and feeling of sickness
  • Confusion and fatigue
  • Convulsions in the stomach
  • Difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath

Steps Against Forklift Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The most important safety measure to protect workers from carbon monoxide poisoning is to eliminate its source. Fuel-based forklifts in indoor environments must be avoided, and electric powered forklifts should be deployed in their place.

In confined warehouses and small factories with poor ventilation, forklifts should be replaced with trolleys, carts, palletizers, or other similar equipment (if an electric forklift is not an option).

Safety Tips if Fuel-Powered Forklift is Unavoidable

  • Formulate a policy on forklift use and management of carbon monoxide risks.
  • Restrict the use of forklift in confined spaces, and turn off the engine when the forklift is not in use.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on the forklift as well as in the premises, and regularly calibrate the alarms.
  • Tune the forklift periodically, and test it for carbon monoxide emission levels. If the forklift is out of tune, the catalytic converter will overload.
  • Create a system for workers to report any noticeable exhaust fumes from the forklift.
  • Educate workers about the dangers of forklift-related carbon monoxide poisoning.

Steps to Take in an Emergency

If a worker appears to be afflicted by forklift-related carbon monoxide poisoning, the following steps should be taken quickly:

  • Turn off the engine of the forklift to prevent more carbon monoxide from getting released in the workplace, which could endanger more workers.
  • If turning off the forklift appears to be fraught with risk, the rescuers must wear proper breathing apparatus.
  • If possible, open all possible windows and doors to improve airflow.
  • Bring the affected worker outside the confined area into fresh air, and call 911.
  • If no heartbeat is detected, administer CPR, and still call 911.

Proper Precaution Taken

In a work environment that may be exposed to forklift carbon monoxide risks, the employer should periodically carry out exposure monitoring with the help of occupational hygienists to determine the concentration levels of carbon monoxide.

Watch YouTube Video: Carbon Monoxide in Construction/Portable Gas-Powered Equipment. The video below provides tips on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace.

Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento machine accident lawyer. Workers who operate a forklift can get seriously injured or killed if they are exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you or someone you know has been injured or exposed to carbon monoxide in a work-related accident, call me at 916-584-9355 today for free, friendly legal advice.

I have worked with many clients throughout Northern California to receive full compensation for their wrongful death and personal injury cases since 1982.

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