I’m in the middle of yet another project at Redhill Farmhouse, this time to make the cellar a useable space.  We are once again a building site. With the digging down done, the time had come to put in a couple of tonnes of hardcore, which had to be compacted before the insulation and damp-proof membrane goes in.  The only trouble was, electric ‘whacker plates’ are as rare as hen’s teeth, and none of the local hire companies had one.  The only realistic option was a petrol engine compactor plate.

Obviously mindful of CO build up in a confined space, I decided to take full precautions.  Thank God I did.

Purchased a full face-mask with the highest level of gas filter cartridges you can get.  £130, but worth every penny.

  1. Briefed the builder’s mate doing the work, who hadn’t really thought about CO.  Explained the symptoms and what controls we’d put in place.
  2. Put our portable CO alarm in the basement.  Tested it first.
  3. Opened windows in both the cellar and adjoining utility room and positioned a fan at the window to get a through draft.
  4. Had a ‘watcher’ on hand to limit time down there to 10 minutes maximum.
  5. Started work, somewhat nervously…

After 7 minutes of operation, the alarm went off.

Regardless of the mask being effective, we pulled him out and waited until the light went green again.   It took four sessions to get the work done, each time the light started flashing and alarm sounded.  I think it was a bit of a wake-up call for him (and us).  It doesn’t take long to build up to dangerous levels, even with ventilation.

Just thought I’d let you know – a salutary lesson for anybody working in confined spaces with a petrol or diesel engine.