Carbon Monoxide Headquarters

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Forklift, lift truck, Hi-Lo Use:

The average carbon monoxide concentrations (exhaust gases) for well-maintained *forklifts (lift trucks, Hi-Los) are as follows:

  • Diesel-powered ............... 500-1,000 ppm
  • Propane-powered ......... 3,000-10,000 ppm
  • Gasoline-powered ....... 10,000-80,000 ppm

    also see data for Other Combustion Sources

    See Closed Garage Study

    Opinion: Based on the data above, diesel, propane, and gasoline-powered forklifts should NEVER be used indoors (warehouses, factories, etc.) unless adequate exhaust purification has taken place, or unless they are powered by electricity.

    Note: Catalytic converters are available for propane and gasoline-powered forklifts (NETT, Mine-X, CleanAIR Systems), which greatly lower CO emissions in exhaust gases.

    *According to data obtained from NETT Technologies, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

    Manuals for the maintenance of LPG (propane) powered forklifts state that with proper adjustment and with adequate ventilation, mechanics should be able to keep the CO level below the OSHA limit (35 ppm measured over an 8-hour period of the work). The manuals strongly recommend the use of a CO analyzer in the tuning procedure.

    Nevertheless, it is this webmaster's opinion that in most cases it is not possible to keep air CO concentration below the OSHA limit where several forklifts are operated simultaneously even in the relatively large volume of a warehouse. The large number of cases of CO poisoning produced in this manner, as reported directly to me and as noted in the literature (see MMWR, 1998), suggest the correctness of my statement.

    Reference: Anonymous (1998) Carbon monoxide poisoning associated with use of LPG-powered (propane) forklifts in industrial settings - Iowa, 1998, MMWR, vol. 48, No. 49, pgs. 1121-1124. MMWR = Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report

    Also See Fawcett et al., 1992 Study

    ...... last changed 12/16/01

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