Gas Detection

When monitoring the atmosphere in a confined space, there are several important issues that need to be considered, reviewed, and managed. One of the major issues centers on air quality and what you are breathing, both prior to entry and during occupation of a confined space.

You need to know what the oxygen content of the atmosphere is and whether there are explosive or toxic gases that could threaten the safety of the environment or, perhaps more importantly, your life. When properly used, and maintained, gas detection monitors will protect both.

Not only do you need to monitor the atmosphere of your confined space to protect your life, but also OSHA requires you to do so.  OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.146 (c) subsection (C) states: Before an employee enters the space, the internal atmosphere shall be tested, with a calibrated gas detector, for the following conditions in the order given: (1) oxygen content, (2) flammable gases and vapors, and (3) potential toxic air contaminants.

When choosing a monitor to test and continuously monitor a confined space, you should take into consideration several attributes of the monitor and be sure to accessorize accordingly.

First and foremost, you will need a multi-gas monitor that is capable of monitoring for all of the OSHA-required hazards: oxygen, flammable gases, and potential toxic air contaminants that may be present as a result of the processes that take place in or around the confined space. Next, you should consider a monitor that has either an internal or external pump that is capable of properly drawing the air sample back to your fresh air monitoring point during initial testing of the space. The monitor also should have the capability of continuously monitoring the occupied space to ensure the workers' continued safety. Other equipment such as sampling probes, durable carrying cases, and rechargeable batteries can be complementary accessories, as well.

An instrument docking system can also be a plus when working in confined space applications. These systems provide the user with a myriad of beneficial capabilities, including the following functions:

  • Automated calibration/bump testing: OSHA mandates in 29 CFR 1910.146 that the only way to safely detect a hazardous atmosphere is with a "calibrated direct reading instrument." Automated calibration and full docking systems often provide single-button calibration options to help meet the OSHA requirements. Workers no longer have to calibrate their monitors manually.
  • Recordkeeping: Docking systems automatically record and store valuable information such as bump and calibration records, as well as recordkeeping of all hygiene information stored. Datalogging information is logged and stored through the event-logging mode, which records information when an incident or event occurs.
  • Recharging: Docking systems also can be used to charge monitors when not in use. This will ensure the monitor is fully charged the next time it is used.
  • Instrument diagnostics: Automated maintenance systems may include technology that provides a means for diagnosing potential problems with your monitor, such as low or marginal sensor life and date of the last calibration, along with the number of days until the next calibration is due.

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