Written By: Jim Grayston
Executive Director
Originally Published in the May/June 1996 issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


The following article appeared in the Winter 1994 – 1995 Tourism and Hospitality Industry Health and Safety Program Newsletter entitle “News & Views”.

Two workers at a hotel were recently overcome by carbon monoxide fumes emitting from a vent above a ballroom foyer. Showing signs of dizziness and disorientation both workers were taken from the area to receive medical aid.

Had either worker become unconscious, the incident would have been deemed a critical incident, and a Ministry of Labour investigation would have followed. In this case, the gas company and the employer led an investigation that revealed that the burners and heat exchangers for the hotel’s heating system had become plugged, causing gases to back up through the system and leak into the foyer area. The local gas company shut the gas supply off until the system was fixed and checked.

THIHSEP consultant, Dave Santi notes that “there are several reasonable priced carbon monoxide detectors for home and business on the market. At the same time, employers need to make regular preventative maintenance of all heating and ventilation systems a regular part of their work activities.”

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, tasteless, colourless gas. It is found in such everyday sources as tobacco smoke, exhaust from motor vehicles, industrial processes, inefficient home heating, barbecues and fires. The hazard of carbon monoxide is universal, and exists, to some degree, in all industries and homes.

How carbon monoxide affects the body

Through the normal process of inhaling and exhaling, carbon monoxide can be absorbed into the blood stream at a rate of more than 200 times that of oxygen, thus depriving the body tissues of the oxygen that is necessary for survival.

The continuous exposure to a very low concentration of carbon monoxide, over a sufficient length of time, can produce the same toxic effect as short exposure to a higher concentration.

The presence of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide hazards can be present in:

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Low Concentrations


Higher Concentrations


Extreme Concentrations


First Aid Treatment


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