Gregory Austin, Executive Chronicles | Work safety is something that people take for granted—until they experience a workplace accident or suffer from a work-related injury themselves. However, these incidents can be prevented by a combination of strictly enforced rules and regulations, proper management of workplace hazards, and various devices that boost safety or send warnings when an environment or an equipment is no longer safe.
Air and gas measuring tools are among the host of equipment that help make workplaces safer. By consistently monitoring factors such as the quality of air, temperature, and levels of precipitates and gases, among others, these devices help warn workers of particular hazards, in addition to signaling to safety personnel that intervention is needed so that an environment can become suitable for occupation again. Here’s a closer look into some of these tools.
Air Quality Monitors or Meters
Indoor air quality can sometimes be worse than that of the outdoors. Activities like cooking, cleaning, painting, and even lighting up the fireplace can increase the levels volatile organic chemicals in the air, which lower the quality of breathable air. Keeping the windows closed may also inadvertently keep and recirculate the carbon dioxide we exhale.
Air quality monitors usually have three sensors—one each for oxygen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide—although some can also detect ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide. When the monitor detects high levels of these compounds or chemicals, it sends a warning in the form of alarms, notifications in the form of digital files (like a document or an email), or a combination of both.
Steps can then be taken to clean up the air and the environment in general to help maintain the air quality. People can also adjust their habits accordingly—for example, by not smoking indoors—so as to not introduce more pollutants to the air.
Time and again, weather has proven itself to be dangerous and unpredictable. A weather phenomenon called high wind, in particular, can become quite difficult to detect since it builds up over time and blows in without warning. Anemometers, devices that measure wind speed, can come in handy when tracking dangerous winds that may be headed toward your area.
Most people are familiar with cup or vane anemometers that are installed on the ground or atop buildings (like weather stations). However, there are also handheld digital models that can also measure the air’s moisture content, air pressure, tail wind, wind chill, and more. These devices are especially useful for people who are always on the go or travel for work, so that they can avoid dangerous weather disturbances.
Combustion Gas Analyzers
HVAC professionals see the most use from combustion gas analyzers. These devices are designed to maximize combustion efficiency by monitoring boiler and burner processes. Combustion gas analyzers work by measuring combustion efficiency—how effectively the fuel being burned is being used—and gauges the levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide in the air, along with providing temperature, draft, and pressure measurements. Some more advanced models also measure oxides of nitrogen (NOx), nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide.
However, combustion gas analysis can also be used to measure nitrogen levels in food to determine its protein percentage content. Moreover, it can also be used for measuring the amount of sulfur in diesel, gasoline, motor oil, and other petroleum products, as well as measuring the carbon content in water.
Simply put, gas detectors detect the presence of certain gases in an area, and are often part of a larger safety system. When the device detects a gas leak, it can automatically shut down a process to stop the further influx of gas and sound an alarm to give workers an opportunity to leave.
Gas detectors are used to detect both the presence of harmful gases in the air, as well as oxygen depletion. Depending on the sensors installed—such as combustible gas sensors, infrared sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and semiconductor sensors, to name a few—gas detectors can be used in a wide range of industries including pharmaceutical manufacturing, paper milling, hazmat operations, oil refinery, wastewater treatment, and firefighting.
Air and gases may be invisible, and we may scarcely pay them any attention. However, they can have a big impact in our daily activities. With the help of air and gas measurement devices, not only can we keep ourselves and workplaces safe, we can also start leading and living healthier lives.