News Release USDL: 96-242
Wednesday, June 19, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
OSHA Alerts Workers And Employers To Hazards In
Transferring Carbon Dioxide
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today
issued additional safety warnings about the dangers of handling carbon
dioxide following the death of a Midwest delivery driver. The driver
was overcome by carbon dioxide (CO2) gas as he dispensed it from
his tractor-trailer to a restaurant carbon dioxide system. The accident
prompted the federal agency charged with protecting workers to issue
a Hazard Information Bulletin.
In the bulletin, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) warns that high concentrations of CO2, an odorless, colorless
gas which displaces oxygen, can cause death. CO2 is denser than air,
and high concentrations can occur in open pits and other areas below
grade. Depending on the strength of the concentration and length of
exposure, lower concentrations may cause symptoms such as headache,
sweating, rapid breathing, increased heart beat, shortness of breath,
dizziness, mental depression, visual disturbances, or shaking.
Asphyxiation can occur when the gas, dispensed from tank cars and
portable containers to stationary low pressure CO2 systems at consumer
sites, leaks in unventilated work areas. The dispensing systems are used
to supply CO2 to sites dispensing carbonated beverages, greenhouses,
and welding fabricators, for example. OSHA recommends that C02 be
treated as a material with poor warning properties.
In the Midwest incident, the worker connected a hose from his delivery
truck to a restaurant bulk carbon dioxide system through a fill station
located on a wall below ground level, just outside the door to the basement.
After a half-hour, restaurant employees found him lying unconscious at the
bottom of the stairwell. Paramedics were unable to revive him. The accident
apparently resulted from a CO2 leak where the delivery hose did not
completely seal to the restaurant fill connection. Because the area
was below grade, the CO2 accumulated.
These are OSHA's recommendations for transferring carbon dioxide gas:
Know the hazards.
Inspect and maintain all piping tubing, hoses and fittings at regular intervals and maintain
the system in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
Make sure there is adequate ventilation even when carbon dioxide is delivered in enclosed
areas or below grade locations that are not confined spaces.
Develop and implement procedures to monitor the atmosphere for CO2 and provide local
ventilation where levels may exceed the permissible exposure limit.
Place appropriate warning signs outside areas where high concentrations of the gas can
Provide proper lighting to enable workers to work safely.
Install new carbon dioxide receptacles at ground level in an open area. If possible, relocate
existing fill stations to above-grade locations. When relocation is not feasible, employers should
follow the requirements of OSHA's permit-required confined space standard.
The bulletin is being distributed to all area OSHA offices, state plans and
consultation programs and also is being made available to appropriate local
labor and industrial associations.
For further information on workplace safety and health issues, contact the
OSHA area office nearest you or call OSHA's Office of Information and
Consumer Affairs at 202-219-8151. The Compressed Gas Association, Inc
(CGA), 1235 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202, phone (703)
979-0900, also offers several pamphlets for individuals wanting more
information on handling carbon dioxide.
Hazard Information Bulletins (HIBs) are issued to provide relevant
information on unrecognized or misunderstood health hazards,
inadequacies of materials, devices, techniques, and safety engineering
controls. HIBs are initiated based on information provided by field staff,
studies, reports and concerns expressed by safety and health professionals,
employers, and the public.