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Emissions Maintenance

“We recently had an issue with some LPG trucks operating in a non- ventilated building and several customer employees became asphyxiated from carbon monoxide poisoning. They all survived but some were hospitalized and this has created a major discussion about emissions testing. We have the tools to do it, but very few customers have signed on to do it perhaps because we charge an additional fee for it and few folks think it’s worth it.

I wonder what other Dealers do in this regard. Do they check fork truck emissions as part of a standard PM? Do they check their own rental fleets? If so, on what frequency? What standard should we hold trucks to that were built prior to tier standards? What is the legal or OSHA standard for fork trucks? Are their ramifications for not testing?”
– K. Richard C. Sinclair, Jefferds Corporation St. Albans, West Virginia

Jim Dutkiewicz, Chief Operating Officer on behalf of Jerry Weidmann, President Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. Brookfield, WI

Asked-Answered1In response to your question on Emission Testing of lift trucks, at Wisconsin Lift Truck we test all lift trucks that go through our shops, including rentals. The rentals are tested during periodic maintenance and the results recorded. We will periodically offer specials, usually in late summer or fall, in the form of reduced cost or free emission testing as a way of keeping the customers aware. Our techs are also advised to be “proactive” in the sense of suggesting the testing be completed, especially in tightly sealed buildings.

With respect to the standards, there really wasn’t a standard for lift trucks prior to the EPA emission mandates to the manufacturers. There is however a standard relative to the employee’s exposure to carbon monoxide via the air quality in the building. Obviously the air quality can be affected by not only the lift trucks but also by the HVAC equipment. New buildings are required to have a certain number of air exchanges each hour. If for some reason the air makeup units do not function properly even the cleanest running lift trucks can contaminate the air.

The air quality testing that takes place is done over time, generally an 8 hour or single shift period. The facility personnel are supplied dosimeters – worn near the employee’s collar – designed to capture exposure to carbon monoxide over an eight hour period. The maximum permissible exposure is not more than 50 ppm as a time weighted average.

Doug Carson VP – Marketing & Sales, & Mike Manus Corporate Service Director, Fallsway Equipment Company, Akron, OH

With regard to the LPG truck running in an unventilated building that is certainly should be avoided. The OSHA standard for CO exposure is 50ppm during an 8 hour period. If a building has no ventilation noxious fumes can build up and cause sickness and/or death. Air should be tested regularly as indicated in OSHA 1910.146/ title 29. This is the very first thing we check for (visually looking at building ventilation) on any emission inspection service request as in many cases it’s a misapplication of equipment.

Customers most often do not think about lift truck emission until someone gets sick unfortunately however emission testing should be promoted wherever applicable. It’s a very easy sell as a Value Added Service while performing the routine Planned Maintenance and most often at a nominal charge of $91 per machine. This is much cheaper than medicals bills, lawsuits and a loss of production.

Standards for machine built prior to CARB
Usually fall with the criteria below:
Carbon Dioxide 13%/15%
Carbon Monoxide .5%/ 1.5% (.5% difficult for non-fuel injection non-computer controlled engines to attain)
Hydrocarbons 75 / 125 PPM
Nitrogen Oxides 2,000 / 3,000 PPM
Oxygen 1%/3%.
Standards for Post CARB for the Exhaust Emission Standards in Grams per kilowatt-hour chart

All engine OEMs put out standards for their engine’s operating parameters with regards to the gases in question. To obtain the necessary metrics, check with the OEM of the engine in question. The following is an example of Emission Control Information (Post CARB Tier II) tagged on an engine that is CARB certified:
With non-CARB and CARB Tier 1 engines I would suggest a program on annual testing for any machine running indoors 75-100% of its run time. With engines requiring fewer tune-ups it can also ensure an engine is running at its peak performance. CARB Tier III may reduce the opportunity to sell as its monitoring systems are much more sophisticated and will generally experience a fault and illuminate a MIL (malfunction indicator light) when out of spec. However we have been requested as a safeguard to test a Tier III lift truck so the customer has proof of its emission output when reporting back to its Safety Department.

Our 5 Gas infrared analyzer with portable printer provides a professional easy to read report. The ramification of not doing so on a well-ventilated building are minimal and newspaper worthy and highly publicized when poorly ventilated. Everyone is trying to minimize their OSHA lost time exposure and you can imagine what would happen to a business if it had numerous employees go home for an extended period or worst yet hospitalized
Buddy Smith, CEO Carolina Material Handling Services, Inc. Columbia, SC
I  pulled up information we had previously collected on this subject. Answers below:

1. Do we check fork truck emissions as part of a standard PM?
2. Do we check fork truck emissions on our rental trucks?
No, not unless specifically requested to do so by a customer.
3. What standards should we hold trucks to that were built prior to tier standards?
See guidelines from Bridge Analyzers.
4. What is the legal or OSHA standard for fork trucks?
There does not appear to be a federal government tailpipe emission standard for fork trucks, per see (OSHA, EPA, FDA, etc.).
5. Are there ramifications for not testing?
As you have stated, there can be health dangers when LPG trucks are operating in a non-ventilated building.

The following quote from a Blanke Industries publication (they also make gas analyzers) may be helpful as well:

“Because there are no federally mandated carbon monoxide levels, various State OSHA enforcement groups have adopted an acceptable carbon monoxide limit of between 1% and 2%. Trucks found to be above these levels are tagged with a sticker calling for maintenance. It is then up to the owner/operator to get proper maintenance done on this tagged vehicle.”