Posted on: 25 September 2020

Keeping your team safe from diesel fumes

Many pieces of machinery in the construction industry rely on diesel to produce power. Unfortunately, diesel fumes contain chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, all of which are dangerous to humans.

If your team is working around diesel-powered machinery, take a look at some of these safe work practices that will help to keep people safe whilst working around this machinery.

What are the health effects of exposure to diesel fumes?

Long term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes has been linked to a 40% increased chance of developing lung disease. Short term exposure to diesel fumes can cause:

  • Drowsiness, nausea and fatigue.
  • Chest tightness and wheezing.
  • Irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

If you experience any of these symptoms after working near a diesel-powered machine, notify your line manager to see if you can work away from this kind of machinery.

The importance of proper ventilation

To keep diesel fumes away from your team, take the following precautions for any diesel-powered machinery:

  • Only use diesel-powered machinery indoors when necessary.
  • Attach extraction hoses to any exhaust pipes to send exhaust fumes outside.
  • Consider installing mechanical ventilation systems to clear contaminated air from the area.
  • Keep doors and windows open where possible to allow fresh air to come in and contaminated air to filter out.
  • Keep diesel engines away from fresh air intakes.

Engine maintenance

Keeping your machines running at peak performance will help to keep the emissions lower. When maintenance is performed on a machine, the following parts should be checked thoroughly:

  • The whole exhaust system should be checked for leaks.
  • Adjustments should not be made to try and improve fuel economy. This could have the opposite effect and increase emissions.
  • Replace filters regularly and consider installing control devices such as particle traps or air scrubbers. If you have installed one of these devices, make sure that they are cleaned regularly.
  • Check operational compartments and seals for damage that could allow for emissions to leak out.

The importance of proper ventilation

Where the appropriate preventative steps can’t be implemented, provide your team with the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so that they aren’t put at risk at work:

  • Provide full face masks and respiratory equipment to those working around diesel machinery. Take a look at our article on respiratory safety to find out more about how this kind of equipment can keep your team safe.
  • Make sure that your team know how to fit the breathing apparatus properly, and make sure that you can properly store, clean and maintain this kind of equipment.
  • PPE should be used in addition to other controls, not in place of.

Contractor insurance with Premierline

At Premierline, we are passionate about helping you protect the business that you have built. This is why we offer a bespoke service to assess your business’ needs to make sure that you are covered should the worst happen.

Our business advisors will work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurance providers to find a quote that provides the cover that your business needs. Get in touch to speak with one of our trained insurance experts to discuss your commercial and industrial insurance requirements.

Source – Zywave inc - Construction Safety Matters: Reduce the Risks of Diesel Exhaust Exposure

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