Briscoe urges owners to install low-level CO devices

January 05, 2016 - Owners Developers & Managers
Centereach, NY New legislation signed into law by gov. Andrew Cuomo required that every restaurant and mixed-use commercial building in NYS install carbon monoxide (CO) devices by June 2015. Once the transitional grace period has elapsed, failure to install or maintain a CO detection system may result in penalties such as fines, imprisonment or both. CO is an odorless and colorless poison, and research has shown that prolonged repeat exposure—even at levels previously believed to be low—are capable of producing many negative physical and cognitive health effects. Furthermore, research suggests that CO poisoning often goes unnoticed, or is not diagnosed correctly, because many of the toxicity symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Bob Williams, president of Briscoe Protective Systems Inc., is a long-time advocate for CO safety. He believes that although the recent legislation is an excellent step forward for workers, there are still many urgent safety issues that need to be addressed, with regard to the often-overlooked question of low-level CO detection. The new law signed has been cited as “Steve Nelson’s law” or the “Steve Nelson Safety Act,” named for Legal Sea Foods manager Steve Nelson, who succumbed to CO poisoning at his Huntington restaurant after weeks of feeling sick. Because of the preventability of tragedies such as this, Williams believes that alarms and detectors should be installed that alert occupants at even the lowest levels. Carbon monoxide is measured in parts-per-million (PPM). According to current UL (Underwriters Laboratory) requirements, CO alarms and detectors will only alert building occupants to the following ranges: 30 PPM for more than 30 days 70 PPM for 60-240 minutes 150PPM for 10-50 minutes 400 PPM for 4-15 minutes These ranges indicate that the UL standards are at odds with the exposure thresholds provided by both the EPA’s Residential Standard (not to exceed 35 PPM in one hour, or 9 PPM in eight hours) and OSHA’s Workplace Standard (not to exceed 50PPM over eight hours). As of now, neither CO detectors nor CO alarms will give any type of warning of CO accumulation at these thresholds until the exposure has been ongoing for 30 days. Williams considers this level of detection inadequate for preventing avoidable sickness and fatality. “When responding to a CO emergency,” said Williams, “firefighters are required to put on their masks when even trace amounts of CO are detected. That tells you something, as does the fact that hundreds are killed and thousands hospitalized every year from this entirely preventable danger. The public at large should be taking similar precautions against this common ‘silent killer,’ using devices that alert building occupants when CO is in its early stages of accumulation—well before it has a chance to build to critical levels. Although not yet standardized, low-level monitors are available, and the professionals at Briscoe Protective would be happy to provide complementary consultations to any business that wants to know how to better protect themselves and avoid needless tragedy.” Williams further urges government officials to press the UL to pursue low-level detection standards, since manufacturers must design their devices in accordance with UL specifications.  
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