If you're a factory owner who wants to install a standby generator permanently for your factory, remember those carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often discussed along with portable generators, but it can happen with standby generators -- and it can also happen outside. Do not think for a second that you and your workers are safe from CO poisoning because the generator is outside the building. Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a location for your generators.

Lots of Clearance

Keep the generator away from doors, windows, and vents. If the generator starts giving off carbon monoxide, it could seep into the building through those openings. The same goes for gaps and cracks in older buildings. The generator has to go somewhere where wind can easily disperse any fumes or gases that the engine gives off. Keep the generator away from areas of the building where people congregate or work regularly.

Also be aware of anything near the generator that could trap gases. This can include eaves on buildings, thick tree canopies -- the canopy is the part with the branches and leaves overhead -- and other structures that prevent good ventilation.

Outdoor Dangers

At this point you might be thinking this is a bit strange because the generator is supposed to be on standby. The risks might become very real if the generator starts up, but not while it's off, right? Wrong. Standby generators actually do run a bit on a regular basis. It's like a refrigerator motor, occasionally starting up and shutting down, though in the case of the generator, it's so that the engine can stay ready to turn on fully if the power goes out. So carbon monoxide poisoning can happen at any time with these.

Warning Signs

That also means that people have to stay away from the generator outdoors, too. If the generator starts giving off enough carbon monoxide, people outdoors, in fully ventilated areas, can be poisoned. This is also where educating your workers about carbon monoxide comes in; if you're outdoors, detectors inside the building might not help. People need to look for:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache that becomes more intense
  • Fatigue
  • Achy muscles
  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble breathing
  • A very red face

Post signs both indoors and out about these symptoms, and include instructions for contacting emergency help. This could be an onsite medical team or calling a local emergency number. Include instructions to get to a clear, open area that isn't near any machinery.

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