Trends in ... instruments and monitors

Workers: Take ‘personal responsibility’ for your safety

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Many workers rely on instruments and monitors, including noise dosimeters and gas monitors, to help keep them safe. Asked about the importance of gas detection instruments, Lisa Mork Davis, director of advanced safety applications for Pittsburgh-based Industrial Scientific Corp., was succinct: “Failure to follow a proper procedure can lead to serious injury or death.” Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new in the instruments and monitors industry and offer potentially lifesaving tips.

What’s new

Ease of use is a big factor for instruments and monitors. “There is a movement toward adding advanced features in gas monitors to make them easier for workers to use and interpret,” Mork Davis said. “For example, one of the features uses larger, full-screen displays to maximize the space for alarms or other pertinent messages.” She added that doing this can remove the guesswork of what action users should take when the alarm goes off.

John Raimondi, OGP marketing manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA, spoke of new sensor technology for “exotic” SO2, Cl2, and NH3 sensors to provide expanded monitoring applications. “These cells offer faster response and clear times under 15 seconds for most common sensor configurations,” Raimondi said. “Their greater signal stability and repeatability improves safety under changing or extreme plant environmental conditions.”

Recommendation

Brendon Cook, CTO for Calgary, Alberta-based Blackline Safety, pointed to a potential issue with automatic detection in lone worker monitoring solutions – it could lead to false alarms. “For example, if the monitor is turned on and left in a truck, no-motion (man down) detection will trigger after a couple of minutes,” he said. “This topic is mitigated by the device first calling out to the employee with an audible and visual alarm – pressing a check-in button averts a false alarm.” Cook went on to state that monthly reporting can help workplaces optimize employee compliance to ensure correct and consistent use of the device when working alone.

Raimondi stated that workers need to be aware of every hazard they may encounter and be sure they are using the right detector or sensing technology for every potential threat present. “For example, some compounds can represent both a combustible and toxic threat,” Raimondi said. “Although a combustible/LEL sensor may pick up explosive levels at the % LEL or % volume levels, toxicity may occur at much smaller levels measured in parts per million (ppm), and a different sensor or technology may be needed.” He said benzene is a good example.

When discussing a frequent “pain point” of gas monitors – the manual calibration, maintenance and keeping of event logs and data – Mork Davis recommends using a docking station. “By automating those processes through a docking station, workers can ensure calibration is performed properly and at regular intervals, and instrument data is automatically transmitted, either to a local server or in the cloud,” she said.

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Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association