OHS Canada Magazine

Handling gas-detection devices with care

June 6, 2019
By Jeff Cottrill

The importance of being gentle with gas-detection devices cannot be un­derestimated. Monitors are tough enough to withstand harsh work en­vironments and in most cases, these devices can stand a pretty good beating, but that does not mean that one should beat on it as if it were a rental car.

If a gas detector has been dropped or knocked around a bit, it is a good idea to perform a bump test immediately to check that the sensors are still working properly. Gas-detec­tion products should also be kept clean. Checking with the manufacturer on what clean­ing agents to use is always recommended as some sensors can be affected by solvents or alcohols.

It is a good practice to check monitors for cleanliness before every use, since clogged sensors may not respond quickly enough to gas — if they respond at all. Users need to make sure that there is no dirt, debris, mud or crude oil that is plugging the sensor holes or the sensor cavities. If these contaminants are present, a user needs to clean it and perform a bump test to verify that gas is able to get to the sensors.

While gas monitors are essential to many jobs, they are not infallible. Detection devices will detect specific types of gases depend­ing on their sensors, but not just any gas that is around. Another popular misconception is that a gas detector does not work properly unless it is equipped with a pump.

While gas detectors essentially perform the same function, manufacturers are trying to provide additional features to gas detectors. According to Jason A. Fox, a segment market manager who focuses on portable monitors with MSA in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, MSA keeps itself on the cutting edge of the industry for all kinds of monitors with a facility that designs and manufactures its own sensors.

“That has been an advancement and kind of an advantage that we have had in the market over the years,” he says. “We even build the machines that make our sensors with our in-house engineering expertise.”

One area in which the general gas-detection market has experi­mented in recent years is in wire­less devices. A user can monitor someone else’s readings from a re­mote location, receive alerts that the person is having an alarm and dispatch help if needed, accord­ing to Fox.

Wireless gas monitors come in different formats, from a basic Bluetooth connection between an instrument and a Smartphone, to a radio connection between detectors to allow workers to communicate with each other instantaneously. Another benefit of a wireless monitor is that it ensures compliance: co-workers can tell instantly whether someone’s device is ac­tivated.

In recent years, Gas Clip has been developing gas detec­tors with sensors that can run for as long as 60 days or more continuously without having to be recharged. The compa­ny’s Multi Gas Clip Simple (or MGC Simple) is a four-gas monitor that runs for two years right out of the box.

“You never have to charge it, and you also don’t need to calibrate it for those two years,” says Jeremy Majors, a service manager with Gas Clip Technolo­gies in Cedar Hill, Texas. The standard MGC four-gas monitor that Gas Clip has been selling over the past four years has a one-year calibration cycle, “so we are just expanding on that.”

As Majors points out, extra bells and whistles on a detec­tor are certain to raise its prices. As such, it is wise to make sure that one is not paying extra for features that are not required in the work environment.

This article was first published in the May/June 2017 issue of OHS Canada.