Walk-in coolers, commercial refrigerators or freezers for restaurants and breweries are a critical concern for CO2 safety. Tavern heads can be connected incorrectly, lines can split and pumps can fail. Delivery people or fork trucks can accidentally damage gas system lines. These issues can lead to a potential CO2 confined space death trap for those entering and exiting coolers, refrigerators, or freezers.
Confined spaces and carbon dioxide gas together is dangerous.
A confined space is a space in any restaurant or brewery with limited entry and egress, not suitable for long-term human use. Because walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, or commercial refrigerators are airtight and limited in space, a carbon dioxide leak could not only occur quickly but can also pose severe negative health effects for brewery or restaurant employees who enter.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled information on CO2 monitoring in confined spaces for businesses that store CO2 on-premises. In addition, the Master Brewer's Association of America has also compiled its MBAA's CO2 safety guidelines for further reference.
Associations such as these and CO2Meter.com believe that lives can be saved by educating and creating awareness of carbon dioxide monitoring.
For instance, would you or your employees even know the common symptoms that can occur if an employee were to enter a walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer or commercial refrigerator with a CO2 leak and no monitoring device? Symptoms include:
- And ultimately, fatality
Preventing CO2 Injury in the workplace
There are two primary types of carbon dioxide safety monitors available - fixed/wall-mount, or portable.
In order to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers, installing either a fixed or portable gas detector can be life-saving.
Walk-in Cooler CO2 Alarm
A fixed or wall-mounted CO2 safety alarm monitors carbon dioxide levels in walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, or commercial refrigerators where a leak can cause carbon dioxide buildup to occur. Fixed devices are permanently mounted to a wall, pole, etc. and they have the ability to be plugged-in or hard-wired for power. In addition, they have a remote alarm to warn employees not to enter an enclosed space where CO2 buildup has occurred.
These devices typically have audible/visual alarms, display the ppm (parts per million) level and have the ability to control or trigger third party systems like ventilation fans, HVAC systems, or solenoid valves.
Fixed or wall-mounted CO2 monitors should be preset to the OSHA prescribed warning levels of 5,000 ppm TWA (time-weighted average), 1.5% (15,000 ppm), and 3.0% (30,000 ppm). The 3.0% alarm is OSHA's evacuation number and should be strictly adhered to.
For restaurant and beverage industries, CO2Meter recommends the fixed or wall-mounted device because owners and operators can ensure compliance with their local CO2 exposure limits and are fully in compliance with an OSHA inspection.
A common area for restaurant and beverage industries where fixed devices are installed include walk-in coolers and commercial refrigeration equipment like walk-in freezers.
Facilities with walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, or walk-in refrigerators already understand the hazards created because it traps cold air and does not allow it to escape except when the cooler door is opened. Remember that the cooling unit for your walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer is only recirculating cold air - it is not bringing in the fresh air. Fixed monitors inside the refrigeration unit can warn employees of CO2 leaks prior to them entering the space.
Walk in Cooler Personal Alarm
Few employees realize that there is a device designed that can assist in personal monitoring of CO2 in confined space areas like walk-in coolers or commercial refrigeration units. When CO2 rises, a worker could start to become fatigued, feel dizzy, or even faint and fall to the floor.
Similar to wall-mounted or fixed devices, portable or handheld monitors can alert individuals of unsafe carbon dioxide levels with audible, visual, and vibration alarms before they enter a walk-in freezer or any enclosed commercial refrigeration equipment.
With a SAN-10 Personal Carbon Dioxide Safety Monitor and Data Logger clipped to your belt, the visual, audible, and vibration alarms would trigger instantaneously notifying the wearer and their co-workers that an individual could be in distress. An added feature of the SAN-10, is the "Man-Down Alarm" which triggers when an individual employee fall occurs; combined with exclusive data logging capabilities for further analysis.
In today’s world, if you are a brewer or restaurant employee and work around areas that contain or produce high levels of carbon dioxide - installing a CO2 monitor is important. Installing the proper carbon dioxide detector, as well as providing education and awareness to those around you, eliminates potential hazards from occurring.
Many breweries and restaurants can now avoid the tragedies shown too often in the media and take precautions to prevent a disaster, not to mention the fines associated with not having a proper CO2 safety monitor in place.
Even though you might not be able to control protocols in your establishment for carbon dioxide safety hazards, you can protect yourself and those around you.