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Four workers operating a gas-powered pressure washer in an apartment building underground garage met with tragedy when they were overcome with carbon monoxide, poisoning three and killing one of them in Scarborough.
Some determining factors defining confined spaces includes a change in atmospheric conditions including the accumulation of flammable/combustible agents, an accumulation of contaminants such as gases and vapours that could result in acute health effects threatening the health and safety and possibly the life of a worker(s).
Whether the Scarborough site where these workers were operating is determined a confined space or not, workers should always be aware of changes to their environment including changes in atmospheric conditions that could become hazardous to their health.
Air monitoring equipment is affordable and necessary equipment that needs to be functioning at all times during worksite operations and that will alert workers of emerging hazards like changes in the oxygen levels. Oxygen levels less than 19.5 per cent by volume are considered hazardous. Carbon monoxide affects oxygen levels negatively.
Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, dizziness and impaired judgement to name a few symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or others, stop working immediately, vacate the area and alert a supervisor.
Working with fuel-powered equipment indoors or in areas with poor ventilation can be hazardous as oxygen levels can become depleted. Find safer ways to complete the tasks that do not jeopardize the health or life of workers.

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