10 Generator Safety Tips
Generators are designed to provide the power you need to keep your facility’s operations running smoothly in the event of an outage. They are large pieces of industrial equipment that should be treated with care at all times. If they are used improperly, you could risk the health and safety of your employees, and some actions could even cause your generator to shutdown altogether. Follow these 10 generator safety tips to make sure your generator will work when you need it most.
- Allow for adequate ventilation
Generator exhausts contain carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases, so proper ventilation is key to ensuring the safety of everyone in your building. Large industrial generators are best placed on a concrete slab outdoors or in a designated generator room that has been specially designed to provide the necessary ventilation. Generators should be installed someplace where exhaust fumes will be directed away from windows, doors, and vent openings.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas that can be difficult to detect. Consuming too much of it can lead to symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
Even if you think you have put your generator a safe distance from your building, it is still recommended to install carbon monoxide alarms inside your facility to protect all occupants.
- Be careful when refueling
You should take extra care when it comes time to refuel your generator. Make sure the generator is completely cooled down before you refuel it. Gas is extremely flammable, and if spilled on a hot engine, it could ignite and create an explosion that will be difficult to contain without major damage occurring. Additionally, a running generator can get hot enough to burn anyone who touches it, so you should avoid coming into direct contact with one until it has cooled down.
When refueling, also keep in mind that the fuel will expand, so you shouldn’t fill the tank all the way up. Once the generator is going, the fuel could overflow onto a hot engine and cause a fire hazard.
- Store fuel properly
Of course, if you have a diesel generator, you will want to keep a stock of fuel handy for emergency situations. Just make sure that you use an approved storage container and place it in a temperature-controlled, well-ventilated area of your facility that is far from employee work areas and any heat sources that could cause the fuel to accidentally ignite inside your building.
- Provide employees with hearing protection
Commercial generators can be extremely loud during operation, especially those units that are powered by diesel fuel. The decibel level can be high enough to seriously damage the hearing of anyone in close proximity to the generator, so you should make sure that all employees wear earmuffs to protect their hearing when they are working anywhere near the unit. You could also install a sound-attenuated enclosure, which is a barrier that is used to greatly reduce the noise that a generator produces.
- Take proper weather precautions
While generators can be used in various conditions, they should be protected during heavy winds, rain, and other inclement weather. Wind can cause dust and other debris to enter your generator openings, which can clog filters and make your generator work harder to run than necessary. You should clean your filters regularly and then change them as needed. Running a generator during a rainstorm can lead to an electrical failure that permanently damages your generator. Thankfully, there are special canopy covers and steel enclosures that you can use to protect your generator during adverse weather conditions. You should also never touch a generator with wet hands or while standing in pooled water. Doing so could cause electrocution, so it’s extremely important to watch where you step near the generator.
- Give enough space around the unit
There should be at least 15 feet of space between the generator and any nearby doors, windows, and vents. This will help prevent dangerous exhaust fumes from entering your facility. There should also be about 3 to 5 feet of clearance between your generator and anything else, like a fence post.
- Only allow authorized employees in the area
Due to the safety risks that a generator presents, you should put security measures, such as a locked fence, in place to keep your general employees from accessing the unit. You can make sure that your authorized personnel understand the proper way to handle the generator by conducting regular safety tests.
- Operate it properly
Understanding how to operate your generator is essential in ensuring the safety of everyone in your building. You should read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using the generator. The unit should never be connected to a wall outlet. When installing a new unit, a master electrician or generator professional should connect it to the main power breaker once it is in place. You should also never exceed the maximum power load your generator can handle, or you’ll risk overheating the unit. Overheating your generator can cause it to shutdown and possibly cause irreparable damage.
- Perform regular inspections
Periodic maintenance checks are the best way to make sure your generator will perform when you need it. Common maintenance tasks will include refilling fuel and coolant, changing the oil and filters, checking for loose or corroded connections, and inspecting for leaks. You should also run the engine for at least 30 minutes to make sure it works properly. If you notice a problem, you should contact a generator professional right away. Taking care of any repairs or replacement parts it needs promptly can keep a small issue from progressing into a major problem that’s costly to fix.
Understanding how to use your generator safely is important to the success of your company. To learn more, contact the knowledgeable staff at Valley Power Systems. We’re proud to provide power solutions for businesses all over California.