Instruments and Monitors

Trends in ... instruments and monitors

Some workplace hazards, such as an unsupported trench or a backing piece of equipment, are easy to spot. But others, such as a gas leak, often go unnoticed. That’s where instruments and monitors can play a lifesaving role.

Safety+Health spoke with Dave Wagner, director of applications engineering and product knowledge at Pittsburgh-based Industrial Scientific Corp., to get his thoughts on what’s new in the instruments and monitors field, how workers can avoid misuse, and what’s important to know about these devices.

Safety+Health: What are some new technologies being used in instruments and monitors?

Dave Wagner: Manufacturers today are attempting to make gas detectors serve as more than just basic single- or multi-gas monitors. By implementing wireless technology, man-down, panic and check-in functionality into the gas detectors, manufacturers are attempting to make their instruments viable lone worker tracking solutions. The ability to collect gas readings in real time, along with location data, allows users to respond to gas alarms quickly and locate their workers efficiently should someone become incapacitated because of gas, a fall, a medical condition, or an unforeseen event such as a snake or dog bite.

S+H: Are there common scenarios in which people misuse these products? How can this be corrected?

Wagner: As difficult as this is to say, as long as portable gas monitors are used, there will be cases where they are misused or misapplied. Matching the right monitor for the application, the right sensor(s) to detect the hazard(s) and the right accessories to complete the job are of the utmost importance when applying a gas monitor in a situation where it might be required to save a life or prevent a catastrophe. The solution lies in training. More complete training that includes not just how to operate a monitor, but also its limitations, must be communicated to instrument users.

S+H:What should be most important to workers when it comes to instruments and monitors?

Wagner: End users of gas monitors and those specifying them must remember that whether the device is incorporating technology for lone worker tracking, man-down monitoring or sensing of other physiological factors, it is primarily a gas detector, and it must function as such and detect gas reliably above all other factors. When called upon to save a life or prevent an explosion in a hazardous atmosphere, the worker must always be able to have the confidence that his or her gas detector will perform its primary duty properly each and every time.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association.

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