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The Journal for Employee Protection
The Journal for Employee Protection
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From flammable materials, trip hazards, and even biohazards – the laboratory can be a dangerous place. So, there are numerous aspects of risk minimization that must be examined in order to establish a workplace which is both safe, and compliant with health and safety legislation. A hazard which is common to a multitude of laboratory types, from the life sciences, physics research to chemistry departments, is posed by gases.
In the instance of substances like chlorine1 and nitrogen oxides2, which are corrosive and toxic, gases can be a chemical hazard in themselves. Check occupational exposure levels in HSE document EH40 or the supplied MSDS to ensure compliance with COSHH regulations.
innocuous gases, such as argon and nitrogen which are famous for being
chemically inert, can instead become asphyxiation risks if leaks were to happen
in poorly ventilated locations. ACOPs which have been published by bodies like
the British Compressed Gases Association should be consulted.
The explosion/flammability risk is the other major category of risk posed by gas which is utilized in laboratories. Gases are usually kept in pressurized cylinders, and improper handling can lead to cylinder damage with sudden pressure discharge and explosions.3
A small spark from
hot surfaces such as lab hot plates or electrical equipment such as vacuum
gauges can be enough to start a fire. An oxygen leak causing localized oxygen
enrichment will multiply the flammability risk massively.
combined mean that it is crucial to be vigilant for gas leaks. This would
involve the installation and maintenance of appropriate gas sensors, monitor
and alarms to detect and alert of leaks in a laboratory setting, in addition to
audible and visual alarms. Numerous alarm types cater for differing user
occupant may have to depend on visual alarms. Networked solutions, which are
sometimes known as addressable systems, permit multiple devices as audible
visual alarms, detectors, and shutdown interlocks to be installed efficiently,
thus minimizing cabling. These systems allow continuous integrity checks at the
same time, quickly alerting to any faults which may go hidden on older analogue
Two gases which are
commonly utilized that pose their own safety and detection challenges are
carbon dioxide and oxygen. Since 2002 in Great Britain, both of these gases
have been classed as ‘substances hazardous to health’.4 This means
that for both short and long term exposure there are recommended workspace
exposure limits and the installation of gas monitors is strongly recommended to
ensure worker safety and compliance with exposure limits.5
It would be
difficult to show compliance to COSHH requirements if you are not monitoring
the environment for leaks. Additionally, HSE document EH40 not only lists
occupational exposure levels but also the calculations needed to establish how
long after exposure a person must recover in ‘clean’ air.
A lot of people
wrongly assume that the main risk of carbon dioxide exposure is asphyxiation.
Mistakenly, some people believe that in settings where oxygen and carbon
dioxide monitoring are both needed, an oxygen depletion monitor is sufficient
to cover both gases.
Yet, doing this is
in violation of the safety standard BS EN 60079-29-2:20156, which
specifically states that, “where carbon dioxide levels need to be monitored for
safety reasons, a dedicated CO2 detector must be used.” This is
because it is possible to go over safe CO2 exposure limits still with sufficient
oxygen concentrations that an oxygen depletion sensor would not trigger a
Detector’s networked monitors are a simple and attractive solution, that
compared to the industry standard, cuts down installation costs by 70% for
practical solutions to monitoring. In addition to providing dedicated gas
monitors, they also provide calibration and maintenance services to ensure
optimum reliability and accuracy of monitors.7
Two Core Cable Solutions
Founded in 1917, International
Gas Detectors brings over 100 years of expertise to the design of networked gas
and safety systems. A number of the gas detectors are based upon the 2-Wire safe area addressable
gas detection system which can detect more than 400 different
gases.8 This system can be employed for a continuous gas level monitoring and
has a unique design that makes it quick and easy to install.
These devices use addressable technology, which means they can be integrated with networked equipment or additional detectors. This includes devices such as International Gas Detector’s Room Status Indicators9 that can be installed outside the laboratory and possess a visual display which shows gas concentrations inside the lab and whether it is safe to enter. A single status indicator can display the output from up to eight other detectors and devices.
These devices possess one two-core cable for both power and communication due to the two-wire design. They have minimal cabling but provide maximum flexibility as the detectors themselves also possess interface points built in for other devices which gives them 80% more capability per detector than current standards.
These can include
analogue signals, call points, relay interlocks and more. Additionally, it
decreases the risk of wiring mistakes as the two-core cable connection has no
specific polarity requirement.
monitoring, interlock and alarm solutions can be efficiently configured
quickly. This makes the system particularly desirable where it is advised to
have multiple detectors at different heights in the laboratory with gas
interlocks, audible visual warnings, and secondary monitoring.
There are endless
possibilities for devices which can be integrated with the two wire detectors.
The detectors can also be integrated with International Gas Detector’s visual
alarms,10 as audible-only alarms may not provide enough warning (for example in
environments where ear protection is required), to ensure safe working areas.
detectors provided by International Gas Detectors
also boast enhanced product lifetimes. Industry standard lifetimes for oxygen
sensors could only be two years. International Gas Detector’s oxygen sensors
last over five years due to the utilization of new, reliable solid polymer
technologies. Additional advantages include better reliability and accuracy,
ensuring freedom from false alarms.
Each detector on
the system can have its own individual alarms, up to three alarm points within
its measured range. Creating networked pre-alarms and main safety alarms is
possible by using this flexibility. These can be mapped to output devices that
can warn of developing hazards as they evolve, instead of only sounding when
situations have hit a critical level.
By utilizing modern
digital systems, multiple controllers in an installation can network back to a
main display panel (HMI). In addition to providing a main system overview, this
main panel can also data log and generate up to the minute information over the
This makes data
available to anyone on site but also to anyone with an internet connection on
any device type, tablet, phone, or PC. Connectivity is available 24 hours a day
to administrators, operators, service and support people.
The flexibility of
International Gas Detector’s devices and the significantly decreased
installation costs mean it is affordable and simple to create custom, reliable,
safety solutions for use in any working environment, from standard building
blocks. With post-sales maintenance support and training opportunities for end
users, either in-person or online, International Gas Detectors can help to
ensure a safe workplace.
International Gas Detectors (IGD) develops, manufacture and market a complete range of gas detection products to protect people and plant against gas hazards in industry, research and commercial applications.
IGD have been specialists in gas detection technology for over 90 years, since the company’s establishment in 1917. Our Gas Monitoring products, which can be found worldwide, are manufactured in the UK to ensure that the highest quality is achieved.
Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen Gas Detectio...
A Press Release by International Gas Detectors
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