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    Staying up to date with CO2 Inspection Codes

    Staying up to date with CO2 inspection codes

    The average consumer or business owner thinks that the “codes” are stagnant and never change. They wonder why an inspector they have seen for 10 years is suddenly asking them for something “new”. However, the codes are always changing, morphing, updating, and being added to.

    One example is food trucks. The codes 20 years ago never mentioned food trucks because the food truck revolution had not begun yet. However, the last few code cycles have regulations for food trucks, starting to appear as safety requirements that are put in place for propane, ventilation, and others. The job of these codes is to keep people safe and that requires a constant cycle of updates and additions.

    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitoring is very similar to food trucks, in that the requirements to monitor have only appeared in the last few cycles. The National Board Inspection Code (NBIC) for example, was the first to codify requirements for CO2 monitoring in their 2012 edition in response to some localized incidents such as the CO2 incident in Phoenix.

    The Boiler and Pressure Vessel inspectors started with what was under their purview, cylinders, and bulk storage vessels. The early codes from the NBIC discussed the need for specified alarm setpoints based on OSHA requirements and that a warning device must be located outside the hazard room to pre-warn occupants of an issue. The NBIC just published the 2019 edition of the code with very few changes.

    We have previously detailed OSHA’s expectations as well as their prescribed warning set points for the notification. Unlike the NBIC, OSHA’s expectations cover more than just the CO2 storage vessels. OSHA is uniquely interested in the health and safety of all employees in commercial workspaces. For CO2 OSHA and NIOSH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) created guidelines for CO2 exposure that clearly state that no lower than 5,000 ppm TWA should be utilized for the first alarm, 15,000 ppm as the Half STEL, 30,000 ppm as the STEL, and 40,000 ppm as it IDLH. These standards are fixed by OSHA and do not change.

    The next organization to include regulations around stored CO2, CO2 safety, and safety monitoring was the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). However, the NFPA did not have a nice, neat place to put CO2 monitoring requirements so they squeezed it into NFPA 55 Cryogenic Fluids. 

    The NFPA 55 is considered to be the “most vanilla” of all the codes as it relates to CO2 because it mandates almost no specifics about devices, locations, or performance. The last update to the NFPA 55 was in 2016 and an updated edition will be released in 2020.

    The last organization that has mandated CO2 monitoring is the International Fire Code (IFC). The IFC is part of the International Code Council (ICC) that also creates building, electrical, plumbing and additional codes. The IFC has traditionally been the code that is more prescriptive about devices, locations, and alarm setpoints. Some of the common recommendations in the IFC include a 12 inch from the floor-mounted height for monitors, the first alarm at 5,000 ppm, and that a monitor or ventilation be required whenever 100+ lbs. of CO2 is stored. 

    The latest edition of the IFC was published in 2018 and will be updated in 2021.

    One of the keys to accurately and effectively monitoring to meet codes is to know specifically what your jurisdiction is requiring. This at times can not always be the easiest of undertakings. CO2Meter recommends you contact your local fire inspector and ask specifically what they will require. Inspectors are always open to proactive individuals as it demonstrates your desire to meet code and keep staff safe. 

    A second resource would be to contact your CO2 provider. They may offer an option for you to lease a monitor.  Be mindful that leasing monitors have two large drawbacks: while your monthly cost seems low you likely will have paid for that monitor within about 18 months of initial installation and you can not take the monitor as a capital expense in your facility.

    Remote CO2 Storage Safety Alarm for CO2 Safety Monitoring

    In response to CO2 safety monitoring and compliance, the Remote CO2 Storage Safety Alarm (RAD-0102-6) continues to meet the increased requirements for the OSHA STEL (Short Term Exposure Limit) with alarms at 1.5%, and at 3% CO2. This device is designed to protect customers and workers near stored carbon dioxide (CO2) and is also designed to meet NFPA, IFC, and NBIC Requirements. In addition, the monitor features both audible and visual alarms and 3 built-in relays that can control an exhaust fan or send an alarm to the fire department or monitoring company. 

    If you are nervous about calling an inspector proactively or do not feel comfortable you can always contact the support team at CO2Meter and inquire about the requirements of your jurisdiction. We are happy to help.

    For more information, contact us today. 


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