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The hidden danger of forklifts

As a worker on a Minnesota construction site, you likely understand how to keep safe whenever a forklift is in operation. From pinning a worker, to tipping over, to dropping its load on an unsuspecting person, forklifts present a number of dangers that workers are trained to watch for. However, forklifts also present a more silent danger that some construction workers might overlook.

Forklifts can operate both in the outdoors and inside an enclosed structure. The hidden danger of a forklift is generally not going to manifest if it is used outside. Inside, however, is another matter. A forklift is a motorized vehicle, and just like your car or truck, it emits carbon monoxide, which can be very dangerous if operated in an enclosed space with no way for the gas to escape.

According to ReliablePlant, people who drive a forklift inside a building should be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. The forklift should offer air venting so that the carbon monoxide does not ensnare the driver. Keeping the building open to outside air is also essential so that the carbon monoxide can be dispersed and not harm nearby workers. If the building has large overhead doors, they should be open to vent the fumes given off by the forklift.

The Mayo Clinic points out that carbon monoxide can produce a number of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, dull headaches, a shortness of breath. A person driving a forklift may grow weak, experience blurred vision, and may even fall unconscious at the wheel. Exposure to the gas can create permanent brain injury and even death. 

For these reasons, workers should not believe that a forklift poses no danger even if they operate one correctly or if other workers know to stay clear of it when in operation. Since carbon monoxide is odorless, many people never detect it until it is too late. Proper air venting and awareness of symptoms induced by this gas can help keep workers safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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