Trends in ... instruments and monitors
‘These are life safety devices’
From gas detectors and volatile organic compound monitors, to flame detectors and noise dosimeters, on-the-job instruments and monitors are designed to provide an extra layer of protection against unseen hazards. Here, industry insiders describe advancements in the field, explain what can go wrong with this equipment and offer advice.
LED-driven infrared LEL sensors are relatively new to the portable gas detection industry, according to Jeremy Majors, technical representative for Cedar Hill, TX-based Gas Clip Technologies. “This sensing technology is immune to common poisoning agents that adversely affect catalytic LEL sensors, which helps lower the overall maintenance and cost of ownership for the end user,” Majors said. “This technology also provides extended run times due to low power consumption, which ensures monitors will last through extended work shifts, such as during plant turnarounds, emergency services, power outages, etc.”
Portable gas-detecting instruments are incorporating components with multiple functions, enabling them to be smaller and lighter with longer run times, said Bob Fawley, product marketing manager – portables for Smithfield, RI-based Honeywell Industrial Safety. “Gas sensors are a good example: Sizes are shrinking, they are incorporating functions that used to require additional components (e.g., digital interface) and benefits such as oxygen sensors that don’t require lead are now possible,” Fawley said.
He added that the availability of wireless communication in these instruments is growing, and “this functionality is being coupled with cloud-based applications to continuously monitor the safety of employees.”
Workers sometimes clean equipment improperly, Fawley noted. “There are many stories of workers placing their gas detector in vehicle exhaust or spritzing the sensor inlet with something from a spray can just to see what would happen,” he said, adding that sometimes workers clean equipment with an alcohol-based cleaner, which can be harmful to the sensor. “In each of these examples, the worker potentially jeopardized the operation of the detector, and therefore their own safety.”
To combat this issue, he recommends properly educating workers on how to maintain the equipment.
Majors points out that sensor ports can get clogged with mud or other debris, which can hinder or prevent gas detection altogether. However, workers should resist the urge to start digging away. “Sharp objects (pocket knives, pencils, paper clips) are not a good way to remove debris from the sensor ports, as they can puncture the paper filters covering them,” he cautioned.
Good to know
“The highest priority of the gas detector is to protect the worker from gas hazards and to do so as quickly and accurately as possible,” said Dave Wagner, director of applications engineering and product knowledge for Pittsburgh-based Industrial Scientific Corp. “To that end, it must always be maintained and calibrated properly each month. Even more importantly, gas detectors must be bump tested prior to each use.”
Ultimately, workers need to remember that these instruments and monitors help keep them safe. “These are life safety devices and, as such, should receive the appropriate care,” Fawley said. “Manufacturer requirements and guidelines for maintenance should be followed without exception.”
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association
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