Anyone who works in the gas detection business will tell you that the consequences of not understanding the safety instruments can be fatal. Broken, malfunctioning, or misused devices give workers a false sense of security.
If you work in an industry where gas detection is necessary, here are a few reasons why you should consider it a smart business move – not just a regulatory concern.
It Minimizes The Threat Of Death
A good multi gas detector minimizes the risk of injury or death – that’s a basic fact. Leaking gases into your company office or building is a measurable risk, based on the type of gas and the concentration.
Poisonous or deadly gases have measurable and specific thresholds. When they are exceeded, your employees are at serious risk.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include solvents, cleaning chemicals, paint fumes, and formaldehydes from furniture and carpet can poison workers. Sources for these fumes and chemicals include:
- Refrigerant gases in refrigeration units and chill units.
- Carbon dioxide and VOCs from chemicals, paints, stains, combustion, and fermentation.
- Leaks from air conditioning units.
- Hydrogen gas from battery rooms.
- Ozone in print or copy machine rooms.
- Fire suppression gases.
- Carbon monoxide in underground car parks which are not well ventilated.
- Methane gas in machinery and boiler rooms.
When installing a multi gas detection system, including using belt detection units, make sure that the sensors monitor the immediate area. For most clip-on detectors, this is not a problem. But, workers need to know the concentration where they are now so the unit should be capable of advanced warning.
Additionally, sensors should be pointed in the direction of a potential leak so that, when gas reaches the sensor, the alarm is triggered. Do not cover the sensors, or obstruct them in any way.
Why Gas Detection Is So Important
Many state, federal and local safety laws require hazardous gas and vapor monitoring. For example, OSHA’s gas monitoring regulations, 29 CFR 1910.120 and 29 CFR 1910.146 cover hazardous site workers and confined space entry. This covers most types of exposure.
Personal exposure, the most common, detects toxic gases in an individual’s breathing zone. The alarm settings on personal gas detection systems generally are able to relate to physical and toxic characteristics of a specific gas.
But, measuring gas in the immediate vicinity is only part of the solution. Workers need to have their exposure measured over time. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommends measuring exposure limits for an 8-hour workday under threshold limit values or (TLV) as well as 15-minute short-term exposure limits.
Meanwhile, OSHA mandates permissible exposure limits, or PELs, only some of which are based on the TLV.
Some limits are set based on immediate danger to life or health. Confined space entry regulations mandate that air in a confined space be evaluated for combustible gases before a worker enters that area.
Any gas in the room or area must be below the Lower Explosive Limit range for that gas or vapor. This is usually less than 10 percent.
The space must also be measured for oxygen deficiency or enrichment, which may affect the combustibility of the gas.
All of this is done to ensure the basic and long-term safety for workers.
Different Instrument Types You Should Know About
While the measurements are relatively consistent across industries, the types of devices used are not. Single gas meters are popular for personal exposure monitoring and they’re all but required on some jobs where area or point monitoring isn’t possible.
Multigas meters have been used for many years, and have become more sophisticated in recent years. Today’s detectors contain three or four sensors with internal sampling pumps.
These meters contrast with permanent meters that are installed in a room or area and are fixed. They have many sensor points and are connected to a common display or alarm and calibration control.
Any point on the system can detect toxic, combustible, gas. The meters also contain oxygen sensors.
How To Calibrate Your Monitor
State and federal regulations require that you calibrate your equipment. This is usually done by delivering a known concentration of gas to the instrument and then verifying that the sensor is performing.
If there’s any discrepancy, the unit must be “zeroed” and “spanned.”
Where To Buy The Best Monitors
Stick with the large, well-known companies in the marketplace. Instrumart, Reliable Fire, and Gas Clip Technologies are just a few of the more well-known suppliers out there. Always test your gas detection equipment before you use it in the field and have your units checked periodically according to the manufacturer’s specs and maintenance schedule.