CO2 Safety in Bars & Restaurants
April 27, 2022
Many bars and restaurants use carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbonate soda or draw tap beer. This gas is versatile, popular, and extremely dangerous. Often referred to as the silent killer, CO2 is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, meaning that workers and restaurant or bar patrons can be exposed without realizing it until symptoms occur. CO2 safety is a top concern for any commercial restaurant or bar, as prolonged or concentrated exposure can cause death.
Preventing & Identifying CO2 Exposure in Bars
CO2 leaks and exposure can have permanent consequences for you, your employees, and your business. It is essential to complete a comprehensive risk assessment of your bar or restaurant to pinpoint any potential CO2 hazards, such as employees suffering exposure while changing spent CO2 canisters to a slow leak permeating the air.
State Regulations & OSHA Standards for CO2 Exposure Limits
Knowing state and federal guidelines that pertain to restaurant CO2 exposure limits is the first step to minimizing risk and increasing CO2 safety. While state guidelines vary widely, most defer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policies regarding acceptable bar CO2 exposure limits.
OSHA standards state that restaurant workers cannot be in an area where CO2 levels are over 5,000 parts per million (ppm), or 0.5% CO2 air saturation, for an eight-hour workday. If CO2 exceeds 30,000 ppm, workers may stay in the area for no longer than 10 minutes. Any environment with CO2 levels over 40,000 ppm is extremely dangerous.
Signs & Symptoms of CO2 Poisoning
When using CO2 in bars or restaurants, it is critical to be aware of the signs and symptoms of CO2 exposure as the gas itself is undetectable without proper tools. Symptoms of CO2 exposure in restaurants and bars include:
- Rapid breathing
- Loss of eyesight
Always seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO2 exposure has occurred.
Increasing Your Restaurant’s CO2 Safety
While any bar or restaurant using CO2 will always be at some risk of exposure, you can quickly and easily minimize risk in your business through a few simple steps:
- Train all employees on proper CO2 safety in bars and restaurants.
- Post clear and visible warning signs near any CO2 sources.
- Keep all areas containing CO2 and CO2 cylinders well ventilated.
- Have a reputable contractor install gas detectors and CO2 alarm systems throughout your business.
Upgrade CO2 Bar Equipment to Minimize Risk
One of the best ways to protect against CO2 exposure in bars and restaurants is by installing quality, high-performance equipment to handle your CO2 cylinders. One option is Assurance Valve’s Eliminator system. The Eliminator is an automatic gas cylinder changeover system that is easy to install and straightforward to operate. When a CO2 canister is spent, the system automatically switches to a new cylinder, lowering your labor costs and risk in a single operation.
As a large amount of CO2 exposure in restaurants occurs while an employee is changing depleted cylinders, automatic switchover setups like The Eliminator significantly lower risk. No worker-caused accidents occur as our changeover system handles everything, and less CO2 is left behind to leak from spent canisters. In addition to improving CO2 safety in bars, The Eliminator also features:
- Non-electric operations
- Higher efficiency than electronic changeover systems
- Ability to support 2-, 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder setups
- And more!