As a leading developer of portable gas monitors at Honeywell, my team understands how your operational challenges affect your product needs. That’s why we’re sharing insights from hundreds of users like you.
Are portable gas monitors necessary?
Absolutely. Implementing a robust safety program into your business ensures that proper procedures, guidelines, and safety protocols are met at every moment of operation. These include the portable gas monitor, which detects hazardous gases that we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or even smell. Consider it your sixth sense for these silent killers.
Where do I start?
Portable gas monitors began to be utilized in the early 1990s. They were notoriously slow, cumbersome, and expensive, but compared to alternatives available at the time, they provided significant safety advantages.
In the early 2000s, manufacturers introduced key safety developments to alarms and sizing. Most importantly, they made portable gas monitors more affordable, which meant more businesses could ensure safer conditions.
Today, manufacturers offer exhaustive device options, yet all of these monitors have one common purpose: to detect hazardous gases and notify users when their environment is unsafe. While there are a number of differences, you’ll want to keep in mind the following key criteria.
One size doesn’t fit all
It’s important to understand different gas risks posed in hazardous environments, as well as the type of work that needs to be done in these scenarios. Most importantly, expecting one device to do it all can decrease your level of safety and introduce inefficiencies. Your industrial hygiene and health and safety team should understand all of these risks and develop guidelines and policies for safety equipment use — including what types of monitors you need for each application.
General workers typically employ small, lightweight, and easy-to-use monitors equipped with basic sensors, whereas confined-space entry-workers are more likely to use specialized monitors designed for remote sampling. Alternatively, first responders make lifesaving decisions by the second, so they need monitors that are fast and easy to read. Manufacturers or brands that feature a full range of options typically offer comprehensive benefits from training and service reporting to support infrastructure and cost savings, so they are an ideal place to start your search.
Designed for comfort
It may seem that all portable gas monitors are similar in size and weight, but there are major factors that impact overall comfort and ease of use. If the device will be worn, you’ll want to focus on placement (where the monitor attaches to the user), thickness, and overall weight. Wearable monitors should be worn near the breathing zone — on coverall chest pockets, coverall collars, or even hard hats — and no matter the placement, the monitor should be secured with a reliable attachment, like an alligator clip. It should also hang properly and not cause discomfort. It’s important to select the thinnest unit possible, to avoid the danger of snagging the monitor on something while the user works in a tight space. Lastly, since most workers typically carry around 50+ pounds worth of equipment, be sure to look for lightweight options.
When selecting a handheld monitor, be sure to review specific hand placement, which means no key elements of the LCD should be obstructed while in the user’s hand. Additionally, balance points can contribute to hand fatigue, so you’ll want to pick a monitor that sits in a palm naturally and comfortably. If weighted unevenly, it can cause long-term hand strain.
Easy to use
Portable gas monitors are complicated, but operating them doesn’t have to be. Workers deal with complex situations, which is why you should pick options that are easy to use. Most workers typically prioritize one-button operation because they need to easily turn on/off a device. Adding more buttons can confuse the process and lead to user error, ultimately affecting safety and efficiency.
For first responders or confined-space entrants, making quick decisions is critical to staying safe. An intuitive display that can be read at a glance can mean the difference between seconds or minutes during a life-safety event. Make sure to thoroughly review the use-case scenario of the monitor and ensure you are comfortable with the information it presents. Many manufacturers offer online or app-based simulators, so you can test monitor interfaces before committing to any options.
Minimize maintenance costs
Portable gas monitors have made great strides in increasing battery life, extending calibration windows, and increasing sensor life. The latest single-gas and multigas innovations tend to be low maintenance or even maintenance free, and offer at least two years of continuous runtime. That means they never need to be turned off or charged. Along with removing bulky cables and associated electrical costs, this empowers users to grab their devices and go. Once the battery reaches the end of its lifecycle, all you have to do is purchase another one — say goodbye to battery replacements, sensor replacements, maintenance downtime, and operational delays.
Regardless of the product you choose, bump testing and calibration are necessary and should be done per manufacturer recommendation. But this doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. By automatically determining and processing what work needs to be done, next-generation, automated test stations have been designed for plug-and-play simplicity. They also offer improved gas-usage efficiency, with some even using up to 10x less gas than previous generations! Automated test stations may be large upfront investments, but can save you significant time and money in the long term.
Connected wherever you are
In this day and age, connectivity means everything, even safety. Connected, remote gas monitoring puts a safe distance between your workers and on-site gas hazards, especially during emergencies. For instance, if your team becomes overwhelmed or incapacitated by hazardous gases, a remote team member can see these alarms in real time and immediately send in an emergency response unit — greatly improving chances of survival.
Regarding user location tracking, we often hear privacy concerns. While possible, invasion of privacy is certainly not the purpose of the technology. In most remote monitoring scenarios, the only time someone knows where the wearer is located is when the alarm mode is triggered — when the worker truly needs to be found. The reality is that those who are connected off-site are simply too busy to monitor normal user movement.
By harnessing data analytics, user location metadata, and gas readings, you can help your health and safety team gain significant insights. For example, you might experience low-level carbon monoxide readings in an area, but it’s not enough to prevent someone from safely doing the work. But with a smart, connected solution, those readings can be captured and trended over time to reveal patterns or hotspots before they become serious risks.
Taking the next steps
If you need new portable gas monitors, there’s no better time than now to purchase a new fleet, as the market is filled with different options, features, and unique values. We hope these recommendations and best practices have prepared you to search for the device that best suits your enterprise’s needs.
For more information, go to www.honeywellanalytics.com/en/products/BW-Ultra