Three factors behind carbon monoxide exposure

Carbon monoxide

Technical Safety BC and Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants conducted a carbon monoxide release fault tree workshop to identify potential causes of carbon monoxide exposure from industrial, commercial, and residential combustion equipment.

Workshop participants identified three causal factors for carbon monoxide exposure:

  1. Misuse of carbon monoxide-producing equipment. This took place in all types of uses and facilities, and reflected a lack of knowledge around carbon monoxide hazards.
  2. Regulatory gaps regarding oversight of carbon monoxide-producing equipment and installations. This is partly due to the nature of the equipment and the hazard itself; the issues cross a number of jurisdictional boundaries and can be lost when jurisdiction changes between different regulatory bodies.
  3. There is a lack of availability of certified workers and inspectors in remote communities. This may lead to increased risks for individuals living in these areas.

At the end of the workshop, 17 recommendations were made to address the factors identified in the fault tree. The recommendations will largely address the lack of knowledge regarding carbon monoxide hazards, investigate improvements towards oversight and enforcement, and improve remote community support.

Several recommendations reach out to different audiences to share safety information. Some examples include:

  • Developing public education and awareness programs that target the misuse of combustion equipment and the risks of carbon monoxide exposure that accompany such misuse
  • Developing a program to promote Quality First and CSA B214 (Hydronic code) design programs with municipalities that do not currently require this system as part of their permitting program
  • Developing an educational seminar or information booklet for facility owners on the impacts of changes in use of combustion equipment on safe facility operation
  • Creating a program to educate owners, operators, and contractors of their duties, responsibilities, and liabilities under the current regulations
  • Creating an educational campaign to create awareness around CO hazards and incidents

The workshop is part of a Technical Safety BC project meant to detect and mitigate emerging and known technical safety risks in the province. Aside from carbon monoxide exposure, the other risks being analyzed include ammonia release, electric shock, and escalator brake failure, entrapments and pile ups. The project uses the fault tree method which starts with choosing a final event such as a carbon monoxide exposure and working backwards to identify all the causes  that could have led to the event.

Read the Carbon Monoxide Exposure Fault Tree Study

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