How to Use Gas Detection Data to Your Advantage
By: Dave Wagner, Contributor
If you use gas detectors on your worksite but only look at the data they collect after an incident, you may be missing out on critical insights about your work environment; behaviors of those wearing the monitors; and the health and performance of the gas detectors themselves. Here are a few ways you can use your data to make the workplace safer and ensure your gas detection program is hitting peak performance.
Overcome Human Error & Fight Complacency
It’s not uncommon for workers to doubt gas alarms, especially when doing a task with which they’re already familiar. It can be tempting to ignore or turn off the alarm and continue to work just to get the job done. However, if this behavior occurs without consequences, it can desensitize workers to alarms and could lead to a major incident. Always check to make sure that your gas detection software notifies a safety manager when workers have shut off gas monitors while in alarm. Then, you can follow up with them; gather any needed information; and make sure the proper protocol is followed in the future.
If there are any doubts about the accuracy of an alarm, dock the monitor and create a full report of the gas hazards it detected, including concentration and gas type. Some gas monitors can even connect to the cloud and notify you of gas hazards in real time. You can then use this data to develop a plan to protect workers from the hazards specific to your worksite with PPE or safety procedures.
Maintain Equipment and Track Compliance
You can also track and document compliance using data by generating reports that include the most recent bump test and calibration dates. You can receive email alerts and forward them to the team as a quick reminder when you see that someone has used a monitor without it being bump-tested or calibrated. Data can bring awareness to habits your team might not even realize are endangering them and can help you move forward with the best protocols to keep everyone safe.
Some systems even allow you to create custom reports that help you assess and maintain the health of your gas monitors and equipment. For example, a report might show that a sensor in a gas detector has failed or that the calibration gas has expired. Using this data to your advantage means that your team can keep your gas detector fleet in good repair and ready to use during each shift.
Incident investigation is significantly easier when your data is stored digitally. You can trace alarms back to the individual, along with location, gas hazard type, concentration and duration. Many gas detection management programs will allow you to assign gas monitors to individual users, displaying their name along with the information about their assigned device. That way, when an exposure occurs, you can tell exactly who was in the affected area. With access to this information, it’s easier to determine your next step based on insight rather than guesswork, so workers exposed to gas hazards will receive the appropriate follow up.
Identify Trends to Prevent Incidents
What are the stakes of not assessing your gas detection with management software? The first thing that might come to mind is added administrative burden. When an incident occurs, it leaves you with a pile of paperwork. By using gas detection management software, you can automate reporting, so you can focus more on how to avoid a similar exposure and less on digging through data looking for the relevant information.
When you don’t pinpoint the source of gas exposures, you also run the risk of repeated incidents. This leads to wasted time and money. Most importantly, workers may be exposed to an ongoing hazard. With a gas detection management system, you can more easily identify the trends in historical data that could protect your workers from running into the same exposures time and time again.
For example, an alarm summary report might show that several workers have been exposed to hazardous gases while working near the same pipe. After you examine the peak gas readings, duration and location, you determine where the problem area is and the nature of the exposure. From there, you can investigate for gas leaks and develop working practices specific to that area until the issue is fixed. Finding the root cause of the exposure through data is the best way to resolve it while keeping workers safe.
By using gas detection management software, you can make the most of the data your gas monitors collect, while saving time and money. When safety and health are involved, don’t cut corners on collecting and using data to make your gas detection program perform at the highest level.
[Dave Wagner is the Director of Applications Engineering and Product Knowledge at Industrial Scientific.]