Portable petrol generators are very useful in a variety of contexts. They can be used to power machinery in workplaces, as well as to get some things back up and running in a power outage. However, if used incorrectly they can become a safety risk.

Help your workers and workplace to stay safe at all times by following these guidelines about portable petrol generator safety.

How is a portable petrol generator dangerous?

Before we jump into the best safety practices, we first need to know exactly how portable petrol powered generators can become dangerous. There are two main risks: electric shock and carbon monoxide exposure.

Electric shock: the electricity created by generators has the same hazards as any utility-supplied electricity, which means the risk of electrocution is high if the generator is used incorrectly. Keep extension cords as short as possible and never use the generator in wet conditions.

Carbon monoxide exposure: running a portable petrol generator in an enclosed space should never be done as it will lead to high exposure to carbon monoxide. Prolonged exposure to this odour-free gas can be fatal so only use the generator in an open, outdoor and well-ventilated area.

Follow the safety guidelines

Read through the supplied information

Make sure to read all the information that comes supplied with your portable petrol generator. This includes the manufacturer’s information as well as product safety instructions on how to operate it. In addition, take note of all warnings on unit labels and in manuals and make sure to comply with them to prevent any accidents.

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Use in well-ventilated areas

No matter where and why you need to use a portable power generator, you should never use it in an enclosed space. Whether this is a home, garage, shed, tent or any other enclosed or even partially-enclosed area, using your generator inside can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and lead to fatal consequences.

Keep the generator dry

Always operate the generator on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure and make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator. Do not use the generator in rainy or wet conditions as this is likely to cause a fire or electric shock.

Watch where cords are placed

Avoid running generator power cords through areas where there is high traffic as they can become potential tripping hazards. Also if they are inadvertently pulled or snagged, the cord or generator outlet can become damaged. To avoid this, move the generator as close to where it’s needed as possible and keep power cords guarded with cable covers to protect them.

Refill carefully

When refuelling the generator extra care must be taken to prevent any accidents or unexpected fires. Store fuel only in an approved container and do not refuel while the engine is running or hot. Just in case, keep a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to properly use it in the event of an emergency.

Protect your hearing

Petrol generators are very noisy, which is why wearing hearing protection is recommended. This can range from foam earplugs to sound-cancelling headphones, and the type you choose will depend on the loudness of the generator and any other nearby machinery being operated.

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