Protecting employees from workplace hazards is an obligation under OSHA regulations. One of the things that you need to be concerned about is the air quality within your facility or on the job site. If gases build up in a confined area, for example, there could be serious consequences for anyone working in the area. Gas monitors help minimize the danger by warning workers of dangerous gas levels, so they can evacuate the area.
What is a gas monitor?
Simply put, a gas monitor is a type of device used to detect the presence of harmful gases. Monitors can either be portable, or fixed systems that sound an alarm when high levels of a target gas are detected. There are four types of gas monitors that are generally used including:
- Electrochemical Gas Sensors — This type of gas monitor is common in manufacturing facilities and other buildings to detect toxic, explosive, or otherwise dangerous gases in the air. Your home's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are also electrochemical gas sensors.
- Catalytic Bead Sensors — This type of sensor has been used to detect dangerous gases for more than 50 years. Catalytic bead sensor are relatively inexpensive, non-gas specific, and reliable for use in industrial facilities, around machinery, and other areas where gases may be an issue.
- Infrared Gas Sensors — These sensors can detect harmful levels of industrial and environmental gases including methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Infrared gas sensors are commonly used in the transportation, oil & gas, and mining industries.
- Photoionization (PID) Gas Sensors — You'll find this type of monitor being in industrial and manufacturing facilities where there is a potential for spills or leaks of hazardous materials, oil, or gasoline. PID gas sensors are also used to detect VOCs in a variety of industrial settings.
Which gases needs to be monitored?
The reason for monitoring gases is simple, to protect workers from high levels of dangerous or explosive gases such as methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. In addition, you may want to monitor the oxygen levels in the air as high levels can be explosive and low levels can cause serious issues for workers. You'll need to evaluate the risks within your facility to determine which gases you'll need to monitor for your employee's safety and well-being.
How to choose the right gas monitor?
Protecting your employees from dangerous gases is of the utmost importance, and you take your responsibility for their safety very seriously. That means you have to make the difficult decision as to which type of gas monitor you should be using. A few things to consider include:
- Monitor Accuracy - The more accurate the readings are, the safer your facility will be. It's important that you not only understand that most gas monitors will require frequent calibration in order to be accurate.
- Cross-Sensitivities - Be sure that you know whether your monitor will detect gases other than the intended gases. Otherwise, you may end up with an inaccurate reading that compels you to evacuate the area unnecessarily.
- Response Time - The last thing you want is a delay in detecting an unsafe gas level. Look for a monitor that provides fast response times so that you can quickly act on the information and protect your employees from danger.
- User-Friendly Interface - The easier it is for your employees to use a tool, the more likely they are to consistently use it. Look for a gas monitor that has a user-friendly, intuitive interface that workers can easily understand with minimal training.