Learn From This Close Call: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Machinery in a farm shed. ( Jo Windmann )

After getting home from a long day of work, Martinsdale, Iowa farmer and seed salesman Bill Bruere discovered the mechanic working on his equipment avoided a near-tragedy. The mechanic had spent more than 10 hours working in Bruere’s 72’ X 135’ shop with compressors, forklifts and vehicles running most of the day and had experienced tell-tale symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning start with a bad headache. This can lead to:

  • vomiting
  • passing out
  • potentially death because of lack of oxygen

If his wife and son hadn’t visited the mechanic, and recognized the signs, he could have easily passed out and potentially died. It’s a thought that’s crossed Bruere’s mind, and one that has him thinking about safety for anyone on his farm—not just him and his family.

“Personally, we wouldn’t ever have anything running that long in the shop—we’ll work on stuff all day, but typically we don’t let anything run over 20 minutes,” he says. The 30’ wide door was open when his mechanic got sick, and a large ceiling fan was running, but it still wasn’t enough to dissipate the carbon monoxide coming from the ever-running truck in the shop.

“With the air compressors and everything on it was just accumulating too much gas—it didn’t matter that the shop was big, the fan was running and the door open—it just added up,” Bruere adds.

When you’re working in a shop with equipment running, ventilation and exhaust fumes are a constant hazard in which you need to be aware. Talk with your contractors to add an appropriate number of vents if you’re doing a lot of indoor work, keep doors open and fans running and don’t forget to turn off machines frequently.

If your shop today doesn’t have good ventilation, think about adding vents or being more cautious about opening doors and putting in fans.

Read more shop tips here:

Tips for Building or Expanding Shops