Portable Gas Detection Equipment: Do You Have the Right Tools for the Job?

photo courtesy Industrial Scientific Corporation

By: Dante Moore, Contributor

On the job, do you know that your gas detectors will protect you? Do you have the right equipment to keep you safe and get the job done? With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to know what gas detectors will meet your needs.

Proper training on devices is crucial. When you enter a potentially dangerous situation, you need to be aware of the risks and how your gas detector can help. You can reduce confusion onsite by ensuring you have the right monitor, designed to only alert in the presence of the gas you want to detect. A worker may be more likely to listen to that monitoring alarm and evacuate—if they know their equipment is working for them on the job.

You don’t have the time to waste—find which portable gas detectors are best to protect your people and help get the job done.

Single vs. Multi-Gas Monitors

Companies will often use different gas detectors for different teams: Temporary contractors are using single-gas monitors; full-time employees are using multi-gas monitors; and specialty teams are using more advanced gas monitors. With so many options, it can be difficult to know your people are using the best equipment for the job. It’s important to know that different gas monitors provide different features, and some monitors may be more useful for your application than others.

To find the right monitors for your teams, you first need to understand the operational differences among gas detectors. A situation can become dangerous if you use the wrong gas monitor.

The features people look for in gas monitors can fluctuate with changes in business. Bigger refineries with hundreds of employees are often focused on hydrogen sulfide and may seek out single-gas monitors to detect it. But, when a problem arises—carbon monoxide exposure, oxygen deficiency or a similar issue—the needs change. As the safety culture changes within your company or industry, you may need to use different gas monitors.

Among current gas monitors available, personal multi-gas monitors—such as a four-gas monitor that has the portability, ruggedness and size of a single gas monitor—are some of the most popular. In some instances, these monitors can even eliminate the need for two monitors, because you can use it for both personal monitoring as well as with a slide-on pump for confined space sampling.

In more specialized health and safety teams, advanced monitoring comes into play when circumstances become more complex. In a confined space situation, for instance, many questions arise on the topic of safety: Are you only worried about specific gases, or is there an unknown element to contend with? Is there a sensor that’s picking up something crazy? Can you reliably send your people into this situation with a standard four-gas monitor and know that’s all they’ll have to worry about?

Advanced monitoring may not be relevant daily, but it is the first check in a series of safety protocols—and it remains crucial. Advanced monitoring expects the unexpected, so your workers aren’t suddenly caught in a dangerous situation.

In less complex scenarios, single-gas monitors may get the job done. Some full-featured, single-gas detectors even come with interchangeable sensors, allowing users to monitor levels of many toxic gases. These monitors are typically popular in situations where users only need to detect one gas but need the option to rotate the sensors.

The Ventis Pro5 gas monitor, from Industrial Scientific, has connected worker capabilities. It can detect multiple gases simultaneously and includes a man-down alarm and panic button, gas alerts, a customized message feature, Wi-Fi connectivity and more. Additionally, the Ventis Pro5 can detect five gases. (photo courtesy Industrial Scientific Corporation)

Use the Right Gas Detectors for the Job

On a basic level, many sensors are the same amongst gas detectors. However, it’s often easier to separate monitors not by sensor technology, but by their additional safety features. For example, some multi-gas monitors also include alarm sharing, compatibility with work alone devices, man-down functionality and much more.

When you’re on the job, it’s crucial to stay in contact with your team, whether in-person or remotely. Connectivity is key when you need to share crucial information in real time.

Connectivity and Advanced Monitoring

Newer, connected personal monitors and area monitors can share gas readings and alarms to enable in-person, team-based safety. Two workers using connected gas detectors can create a localized peer safety group. When the alarm goes off on one worker, an alert goes off for the other worker. Connected gas detectors can also relay hazard information into the cloud in real time, allowing safety managers to see alerts and data information as it happens.

To benefit from these connectivity features, you don’t have to be in a certain industry. Typically, bigger chemical plants, refineries and even fire departments incorporate connectivity into their safety programs, but other industries can benefit, too. It’s the next step: Everyone wants to have it, but you need to make sure that connectivity will benefit your company and your people.

When you rely on gas detection equipment to complete daily tasks, you need to be certain that the monitor you are using is going to keep you safe on the job. Hazards vary from industry to industry, but safety should remain consistent. You need the right equipment, and the choice is an important one to make. It ultimately comes down to finding the right set of features in a gas detector that will best serve your needs and keep you safe.

Dante Moore is an Applications Engineer at Industrial Scientific Corporation, and is specialized in helping companies find the right gas detectors for their applications. He can be reached at dmoore@indsci.com.

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