Propane-powered equipment helps workers reduce CO emissions

January 11, 2021 By    

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas and is a byproduct of burning fuels, including propane.

Exposure to high levels of the gas can lead to CO poisoning, which is characterized by headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and unexplained fatigue.

Because CO poisoning can lead to brain damage or death, industries like light construction and material handling that use small-engine equipment in indoor settings must be aware of the potential for CO exposure.

“According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, one of the most common sources of CO exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine,” says Matt McDonald, director of off-road business development at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).

Any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine – like concrete grinders, concrete saws and forklifts – poses the risk of CO exposure, whether those engines use propane, diesel or gasoline.

Nevertheless, propane-powered equipment reduces the amount of CO emissions to which workers are exposed, according to PERC.

For one, propane-powered equipment often includes a CO detector that monitors air quality and can shut down the equipment in the event of unsafe CO levels.

And because it burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel, propane also reduces other emissions like nitrogen oxides on job sites.

PERC compiled these and other insights on a new webpage to help end users promote CO safety and indoor air quality in the workplace. The effort was intended to raise awareness for CO Safety Month, recognized in November.

To learn more about the dangers of CO, the signs of CO poisoning and how different fuels used on-site can affect risk, visit

Featured image: THEPALMER/E+/Getty Images

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