National Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

In the UK we are marking Mental Health Awareness Week as well as the month-long observance in the US, we’re reminded that with society changing at a fast pace new norms arise, such as working from home. Many of us try to adapt to both home and hybrid working while building and maintaining both work and personal connections. However, 1 in 5 people are experiencing loneliness. We all get affected by loneliness at one time or another. It can be a driver for and/or a product of poor mental health. Although Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, this week aims to promote reaching out to a friend, family member or colleague and reflecting on your own wellbeing too.

At Crowcon, we are focused on looking after our people, and have put in place programmes and resources to help them feel safe, healthy, and fulfilled. This includes our company employee assistance programme, which provides a range of methods of support and advice.

Crowcon is playing a part in providing an environment that supports and nurtures our people. From mental health first aiders to walking challenges, we try to ensure that our people are supported and feel connected where they work.

There are lots of advice and support to help you on your way:

10 practical ways of looking after your mental health

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://unitedgmh.org/

https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/menopause-and-your-mental-wellbeing/

 Our Partnership with Point Safety 

Background

Point safety Ltd are one of the UK’s leading gas safety consultants with 20 years of experience, knowledge and background in the instrumentation industry. Founded in 2011 by their current Managing Director, Point Safety now specialise in sectors such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical, utilities and telecommunication, providing a range of industries, supplying, installing and maintenance of bespoke solutions and the service and supply of test equipment. Point Safety provide constancy to their customers as they believe that there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ nor does one solution just have to be ‘fit for purpose’.

Views on Gas Detection

In regards to portable gas detection being an essential piece of equipment when detecting toxic or explosive gasses as well as measuring gas concentration. Point Safety put customers at the forefront of gas detection, they believe that gas detection not only protects their customers plants and processes but more importantly it helps to prevent injury, thereby helping to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of its workers. Through the supply and support of Crowcon our portable instruments, this allows Point Safety’s customers to have the freedom to have reliable, efficient service with the confidence and knowledge that the equipment being provided allows for the protection of workers and their employees. Therefore, turnaround is important to Point Safety, ensuring that they provide a quick and effective service turnaround for all units is an essential, thereby ensuring minimal downtime and increased customer satisfaction.

As Point Safety provide the supply, installation and maintenance of the bespoke solutions, the implementation and servicing of their fixed systems that are provided nationwide are vital to their customers. Point Safety are confident that the continuous monitoring of these systems ensures not only our customers and their employee’s lives are safe but also that of their surroundings.

Working with Crowcon

Through continuous communication of knowledge and expertise with Point Safety, our partnership will allow for the supply of gas detection instruments to ensure the safety to those working within the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, utilities and telecommunication industries.

“We have a great long-standing relationship with Point Safety with them now a trusted partner in the North. Point Safety offers outstanding service to our end users and are extremely knowledgeable on Crowcon products” – Katherine Winter, Northern Account Manager. Our partnership, Point Safety allow for the distributors of Crowcon products throughout the UK, in portable and fixed gas detectors/systems. Our partnership also has enabled Point Safety to become a Crowcon calibration site, with all their engineers being fully trained and certified to Crowcon standards. “Point Safety Ltd are extremely proud to be associated with Crowcon, the leaders in gas detection systems, not only in the UK but worldwide. Their expertise, knowledge, first class product range together with their total support is second to none.” – Dawn Beever, Head of Sales and Marketing.

Our Partnership with Frontline Safety

The Safety Distribution Industry has transformed a great deal in the last few years, as companies rely more on the use of the Internet to gather information about products, applications and pricing.

Background 

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Glasgow, Frontline Safety is a global supplier of gas detection, environmental monitoring and occupational safety equipment. Frontline has over 30 years of experience in the service of gas detection systems, providing tailored support  working with individuals and organisations of varying degrees and sizes across various sectors, including oil and gas, energy, general process, chemical, pharmaceutical, and environmental.

Views on Gas Detection

Due to industrial environments having the possibility to house a range of gases for commercial production purposes, a variety of gas detectors may be required, including both portable, multi-gas detectors and fixed detectors, both being an essential part of health and safety requirements. Therefore, providing the most appropriate equipment and service that will meet both the needs of the customer and HSE requirements. 

Working with Crowcon

“As Gas detectors are at the forefront of Frontline Safety’s product offering, our partnership allows Frontline to provide the highest quality possible. Our Partnership with Crowcon allows us to give our customers access to a well-recognised brand. Their extensive gas detection range complements our existing product range and enables us to produce the required equipment to reduce injury to workers within the oil and gas, energy, general process, chemical, pharmaceutical, and environmental industries as well as helping the environment.” 

As a Crowcon partner, Frontline Safety UK is fully trained and authorised in the use, calibration, servicing, and repair of Crowcon equipment.

Our Partnership with Bence Plumbing & Heating

Established in February 2021 Bence Plumbing & Heating dedicated to Bathroom, Plumbing and Heating is part of the Bence Group, Gloucestershire’s leading Independent Builders Merchant, established in Cheltenham in 1854. Bence Plumbing & Heating serves all customers plumbing and heating needs, with daily deliveries in Gloucestershire and access to a huge range of products from our main depot in Cheltenham. Bence provide a personal touch, bespoke service with a vast knowledge of the bathroom, plumbing and heating sector.

Partnership with Crowcon

We are delighted to be working with Bence Plumbing & Heating to provide Anton by Crowcon. This partnership will work hand in hand with Bence’s current customer database already present from over 160 years business trading. Bence Plumbing & Heating will also become a drop-in centre for servicing. Allowing local customers to Drop their devices into Bence Plumbing & Heating at a time convenient to them and they will work with us to facilitate the annual calibration.

Bence is a new partner for our gas analysers, our Sprint Pro stops you from having to store, charge, carry, calibrate and transport multiple devices. Our device allows you to conduct all critical test measurements with just one high performance, innovative solution.

National Apprenticeship Week 

At Crowcon we have a passion for gas detection, for over 50 years we have been manufacturing high quality gas detectors that are reliable and have technical innovation. In a week that brings businesses and apprentices together to highlight the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, business and the wider economy, we are delighted that we offer such apprenticeships here at Crowcon.  

With over 25 employees having completed an apprenticeship and three currently going through the process, we know apprenticeships are more than just a qualification, they offer experience to become a professional in a chosen trade, helping to make an impact in the business all whilst earning a wage.  

“Apprenticeships are still undercelebrated despite of all the benefits they bring to both the individuals and the business. They perfectly blend theory and practical skills together into a learning-working experience that is like no other. Crowcon has seen many of our colleagues successfully graduate form apprenticeships with HNC, HND and even bachelor’s degrees. I would strongly encourage today’s youth to consider apprenticeship route, especially females within STEM. I have no doubt that it will unlock many career opportunities for you” – Birute Infantado, Human Resources Manager. 

In the process of building your engineering career through an apprenticeship scheme at Crowcon, you will experience a work environment day-to-day in parallel whilst gaining the benefits from experienced colleagues and mentors who can help you build your skills and take them straight into the workplace. 

An advanced apprenticeship at Crowcon takes three years to complete. We work closely with local colleges to provide apprenticeship programmes with the opportunity to continue your academic studies at both Newbury College that covers engineering or Abingdon and Witney College that supports business improvement. The scheme combines 80% work and 20% learning time. 

We believe that home grown talent is the future. Although higher education has now become an expectation in the workplace, the cost of higher education is leading many to re-think the automatic study routes. Vocational career paths have become widely available, offering a multitude of opportunities and development routes. People development is at the heart of our business success and working collaboratively to release the wider potential within our business is how Crowcon will continue to go from strength to strength. 

Following completion of the three-year apprenticeship, previous apprentices have developed the scope to move into engineering roles after a few years in the Line Technician position. Not only have all our apprentices been placed in permeant jobs within Crowcon following the end of their apprenticeships, but some have even continued with higher level apprenticeship studies. Some of the previous apprentices have taken roles in Test and Verification, Quality Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering and Project Management within R&D. 

Hear what some of our current apprentices have to say: 

“One of the things I particularly enjoy about the apprenticeship is the fact you earn while you learn, with the opportunity to continue into higher education all supported and sponsored by the company, meaning no hefty student loan. Additionally, with a tailored training and development plan directly related to the job – you pick up a lot of useful/ specialist skills along the way which puts you in line for great career prospects and progression. I would recommend the apprenticeship route as it gives you the opportunity to learn within the industry, whilst putting these into practice in real world scenarios, which is just as valuable as going to university” – Alex Watson, Test and Verification Technician 

“The apprenticeship gave me an insight and understanding into LEAN practice and has given me the tools to streamline production and improve processes.  Working in small teams with other apprentices doing the same course was good as we all had different opinions and views which was also a good learning process for me” – Debbie Murphy, Team Leader.  

“I am currently undergoing Level 3 Engineering Technician course, where I am learning the basics of electronics as well as building and testing my own circuit boards. The apprenticeship is allowing me to develop my social skills as well as get hands on by combining my learning and work together” – Ethan Shurmer, Line Technician.  

“Throughout my time at Crowcon, I have completed 4 apprenticeships from level 3 to level 6. The apprenticeships have allowed me to work in real world environments giving the options to gain the essential experience needed for future careers choices and have provided me with the skills and knowledge to progress further within the engineering industry” – Vikesh Patel, Junior Project Manager.

Our Partnership with Rexel

Service Solutions are not a new business requirement, however, the ways in which business look to service solutions have changed. With companies all competing to win and keep customers based on the experiences, service solutions have become more of an integral part of business operations. Efficiency, reliance, and fast solutions are some of the key factors that organisations must provide in their service solutions for their customers to benefit from their services.

Background

Rexel are a service solution provider to ensure customers operate in the best possible manner by providing a broad range of sustainable and innovative products, services, and solutions. Rexel identify organisation’s pain points in business needs and requirements and aim to deliver a range of professional and timely solutions to support business operations. Housing 5 industrial locations located throughout the UK all focusing on end users, locations include Manchester, Bradford, Whitehaven, Deeside, Birmingham. Whilst also housing a National Account Team of which is multi-sited focusing on complex industries, i.e., nuclear, food, steel and mineral.

Views on Gas Detection

The maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) sector endure constant operational and legislative change. That’s why Rexel structured their MRO support business into sector-specific divisions with gas detection being one of the newest sectors for them to explore and maintain.

The rapidly increasing population, industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust require continuous monitoring for those workers who must operate in these harsh environments. With climate control becoming a global concern, in response to this Rexel have become aware of an area in which they can support the safety of individuals that are impacted by their products, services, and solutions.

Working with Crowcon

Through continuous communication a partnership with Rexel will allow Crowcon to continue to combine our expertise with emerging technologies to develop process insights and protection for our customers. Improving their operational efficiency and creating healthier and safer workplaces as well as enabling a growth into a safer, cleaner, healthier future for everyone, every day by providing best in class gas safety solutions. Crowcon will allow Rexel to enhance their currently solution as well as allowing those working in Health & Safety roles to easily provide products, services and solutions that will aide their customers. “We are very thankful Crowcon can see the opportunity that we can work together through a joint partnership and vision”.

How to correctly sample gases using pumped instruments

In many situations, workers must perform pre-entry gas checks, to make sure that a confined space is safe before entering. This is often a requirement arising from risk assessment or to allow the issuing of permits to work, or is simply needed because the area is inherently risky. Whatever the reason, using a pumped device in conjunction with a sampling tube is a great way to perform pre-entry checks to check that a confined space is safe before entry.

However, taking measurements in this way brings its own set of challenges and dangers, and when using Crowcon products in pumped or manual sampling modes, all operators should take care to follow these instructions:

• It is strongly recommended that, before proceeding, a function check is performed using the pump and sample tube with the gas/vapour to be detected.

• To reduce the risk of absorption of the gas/vapour in the sample tube, ensure the temperature of the sampling tube is above the flashpoint temperature of the target vapour.

• Ensure the monitor is correctly calibrated for the target gas/vapour.

• Only use the sample tube supplied by Crowcon. It is strongly recommended that ‘reactive gas tubing’ (part no. AC0301) is used for sampling gases/vapours that are likely to be adsorbed (for example, toluene, chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, ozone, hydrogen chloride, NOx, etc).

• Keep the sample tube length as short as possible.

• Please allow sufficient time for the gas/vapour to reach the sensor; allow at least 3 seconds per metre plus the normal T90 response time of the sensor (typically 30–40 seconds).

In addition, please note that some of the gases that can be measured by our gas detection products are classified as ‘reactive’ gases.

A reactive gas will react with, or be absorbed by, the material(s) with which it comes into contact. As a result, the gas concentration reaching the sensor can be reduced, leading to an incorrect reading.

The following list includes some (but not all) reactive gases, which are listed with the appropriate calibration gas. Please contact Crowcon for specific gas concentration information and cross-calibration values).

Target Gas Calibration Gas
Ozone (O3) Ozone (via O3 generator)
Hydrogen Chloride (HCL) Hydrogen Chloride
Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) Hydrogen Chloride or Sulphur Dioxide
Chlorine (Cl2) Chlorine (via Cl2 generator)
Fluorine (F2) Chlorine (via Cl2 generator)
Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2) Chlorine (via Cl2 generator
Phosgene (COCl2) Chlorine (via Cl2 generator)
Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Sulphur Dioxide
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Nitrogen Dioxide
Nitrogen Monoxide (NO) Nitrogen Monoxide
Ammonia (NH3) Ammonia

• It is very important that the appropriate accessories and precautions are applied when measuring, calibrating or bump testing sensors that are targeting reactive gasses

When taking sample measurements:

• Use Teflon, FEP or PTFE tubing; the tube length must be kept as short as possible (<50 cm). Avoid connectors and unions.
• Allow the sample to flow through the regulator/pipe for at least 3 minutes, for initial absorption to occur, before attempting to get a reading.

When calibrating the above points apply in addition to the following:

• The recommended gas flow-rate is 0.5 litres per minute.
• Gas generators are recommended, instead of gas cylinders, for some very unstable gases, especially where very low ppm concentrations are required.
• Use only stainless steel regulators for cylinder gas.
• Ensure the correct calibration adaptor is used, appropriate to the specific product.

Following the above guidance will allow your pumped devices pre-entry checks to deliver accurate measurements – even with reactive gasses – and will keep staff safe and well.

TWA Resume – how Crowcon’s patented feature keeps workers safe and makes compliance easier

Most people who work with hazardous gases, and particularly anyone with responsibility for regulatory compliance, will be familiar with the various ways of measuring workplace exposures to gas. You may have heard of short- and long-term exposure limits; these are used to quantify the amount of gas a worker can be exposed to without harm, and most gas detectors track them.

But why differentiate between a short-term and long-term exposure? Well, that has mainly to do with the ways in which gases can be harmful. Some gases (hydrogen cyanide, for example) can be almost immediately fatal if inhaled at a given concentration, but some gases remain harmless if present at or below a much lower level for extended periods of time.

If a worker’s long-term exposure is more than the safe level, however, then some gases can be seriously dangerous to health. And the company in charge may become legally liable because it will have failed to comply with gas regulations.

Non-compliance can get very expensive, very quickly. It is costly in both financial and reputational terms.

Figure 1: This image shows how Crowcon’s proprietary TWA Resume feature keeps workers safe and proves a firm’s compliance, by continuing to monitor exposure to harmful gases even after a mid-shift break or other switch-off during the TWA period. Other detectors don’t do this, they assume any switch-off (e.g. for meals or to drive between sites) signals a new period of measurement, which leaves workers vulnerable to over-exposure and harm, and firms open to legal sanctions due to harm and/or non-compliance. In this image, you can see the workplace exposure limit is breached at around 14:00, but only the Crowcon device with TWA Resume alerts the user to this fact and documents it.

Why use TWAs?

Long-term and short-term workplace exposure limits (WELs) for gases are set out by local regulatory bodies. In the UK, the HSE document EH40 applies. Chronic exposure is often measured via a time-weighted average, or TWA. That means the worker’s exposure to a gas is monitored across a given period, usually 8 hours, to make sure the gas(es) remain(s) at or below the WEL throughout that time.

Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy to mess up a TWA measurement and thus fall foul of the regulations. This is because many standard gas detectors erase the TWA timer history when they are switched off, even if the 8-hour/TWA measurement period is ongoing. So, if an operator turns off one of these detectors because they are having lunch or moving between sites, then switches it back on again when they get back to work (bearing in mind this is a continuation of the TWA period they have already begun to track), the detector will assume that they are beginning a new TWA measurement period.

Clearly, this breaches regulations and can be very dangerous – Figure 1, above, shows why. In this example, the worker exceeds the safe limit at around 14:00 but the traditional device does not ‘see’ this or alert them. The Crowcon device with TWA Resume, however, does sound the alert. And that may save both the worker and the company from a great deal of harm.

What is TWA Resume?

The Crowcon T4 and Gas-Pro ranges have Crowon’s proprietary TWA Resume feature. This  innovative and unique functionality makes sure accurate TWAs are recorded for each and every 8-hour/TWA period, keeping employees safe and removing the risk of non-compliance. Furthermore, it makes it easy for a firm to prove their compliance in the face of any legal claim.

TWA Resume is a patented feature only found on Crowcon devices. When turned off during the TWA measurement period, it stores TWA data in its memory. When a worker switches it back on, they can choose to resume measurement from where it left off, or start a new TWA measurement.

T4 and Gas-Pro detectors store this data in their logs, where is available for further analysis and to prove compliance. Even better, TWA alarms and near-miss data can now be easily exported into Crowcon Connect, a cloud-based portal that gives customers total data visibility. This makes it easy for them to prove compliance, and to be sure that their workers are safe.

Because TWA Resume is a patented Crowcon feature, only Crowcon can provide it. If you want to keep your staff safe while making regulatory compliance much easier, please contact us. We’ll be happy to give you more information on our patented TWA resume feature and discuss how it can help you and your business.

Covid-19 is making oxygen management crucial for hospitals

The current Covid-19 pandemic is pushing healthcare to the limit – but oxygen management in hospitals has become a particular challenge for health systems worldwide. Within the healthcare environment, the safety of the healthcare providers and their patients is paramount.

When patients are hospitalised with Covid-19 they often need additional oxygen, and the logistics and sheer volume of this demand is forcing hospitals to take drastic action to manage oxygen use.

A recent BBC documentary, for which a film crew traced the impact of Covid-19 on the Royal Free Hospital in London, clearly shows how the problems of oxygen management are taxing front-line medics and NHS managers, and directly affecting patient care.

At the time of filming, 80% of patients at the Royal Free had Covid-19 and most were on supplementary oxygen at between five and thirty litres per second. As Rui Reis, operations manager for estates at the trust, explains in the film, the hospital used a month’s supply of oxygen in two days and was faced with the prospect of drops in the pressure of patients’ oxygen and in delivery levels – with potentially catastrophic results.

In more normal times, the hospital’s estates management could act to mitigate the problem. But all such actions would require a 4–6-hour shutdown of the oxygen supply.

And in a pandemic, that simply is not an option.

Striking a Balance

The Royal Free had never experienced such oxygen issues before, and soon realised that a balance had to be struck between reducing oxygen use and simultaneously maintaining patient care and the oxygen infrastructure. As a result, they took various measures, for example doctors decided to reduce target blood oxygen levels from 92–94% to 90–94%, while giving clinicians the option to increase oxygen levels in line with patient need. And operations director Rachel Anticoni ensured that every oxygen outlet was closed off where possible to avoid leaks, rather like stopping a dripping tap.

In the film, Rachel Anticoni reports their solutions had reduced oxygen use by around 3,000 litres per minute.

Gas monitoring makes the difference

The Royal Free offers a fine example of how good gas management can improve outcomes and operations. This is something that Crowcon knows about, because we already supply hospitals with our oxygen detectors – these provide early warning of  oxygen-riched environments (which can be an explosion risk) and can also be used to detect the leaks that drain oxygen capacity.

To summarise:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic means that hospitals must now use unprecedented amounts of oxygen.
  • This has caused them to struggle with capacity and mitigate against unnecessary use to ensure supplies are sustainable.
  • Crowcon oxygen detectors can help, by warning hospitals of oxygen leaks and preventing the occurrence of oxygen-rich environments.
  • In this way, gas monitoring protects health system resources and patients alike.

Find out more about Oxygen risks in healthcare environments in our infographic here.

If you want to know how we can help with monitoring oxygen use to ensure supply or prevent oxygen rich environments pose an explosion risk, our experts can help, please get in touch.

Are you safe to re-start operations?

As governments around the world ease lockdown measures that were introduced to combat Covid-19, many of us are starting to plan how to return to business. But re-starting operations after a break can present specific gas-related problems and dangers that must be dealt with before operations begin.

A terrible example of what can happen otherwise has recently occurred in India. There, a persistent styrene leak, from a factory that had been closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, killed at least 11 people, and harmed many more within a radius of several kilometres.

The need to check gas safety after a break in operations applies across many sectors. These include:

-Car plants

-Manufacturing facilities of all types

-Bars, restaurants and hospitality venues

-Leisure centres and swimming pools

-Refineries and chemical processing plants, where operations have been scaled back or stopped due to reduced demand

-Laboratories

-Schools and colleges

-General industrial sites that ceased operations due to Covid-19.

What are the dangers?

While the challenges arising will vary by sector, the most common include:

  • Re-pressurisation of systems. Many industries – from schools and colleges to bars and oil refineries – use pressurised systems or equipment such as boilers, steam heating systems, autoclaves, pipework, heat exchangers and refrigeration plant. If these are not correctly pressurised, they may explode, leak or cause contact injuries Any break in operations may have caused or coincided with a change (usually a drop) in pressure.

Some systems contain gases that are inherently toxic/flammable, some gases may be safe in normal process conditions but are now less safe due to changes in pressure or other conditions created by a recent shut-down. In any case, there is a legal duty to maintain pressurised systems (you can find out more from the HSE’s pages here) so it makes sense to check the system before re-starting operations, and to re-pressurise the system if required.

  • Areas used to store toxic and/or flammable gases that have not been entered for some time. This is likely to be a widespread danger because such areas are not always industrial. Swimming pool operators store chlorine; cafes, schools and colleges store gases for educational and catering purposes; food-makers, pubs and bars use gases in the manufacture and dispensing of beverages. If gas has leaked during a Covid-19 shut-down, it may endanger property and staff when operations begin again. Alternatively, the break could mean that gases are no longer stored at their optimum pressure or temperature.
  • It should also be noted that some stored goods may emit toxic or flammable gases if they have been left for a long period. For example, methane and hydrogen sulphide may be generated by organic matter that has begun to degrade or ferment.
  • Re-starting production or operations where materials/chemicals have been left unattended for some time can also be hazardous. For example, anything stored at a specific pressure may have experienced a change in that pressure, and materials stored in sub-optimal conditions (e.g. in terms of ambient temperature, pressure, exposure to light or operation) may now be unfit for purpose or even dangerous.

What should I do before re-starting operations?

Gas hazards should form part of your re-starting operations risk assessment.

When it comes to gas, Crowcon has a wealth of knowledge gathered over many years and from many installations. If you need reliable information about the gas-related dangers that may arise on your own return to operations, check out our ‘Talking Gas’ information hub, which is full of free resources to download, and our ‘Insights’ knowledge base. And if you have any other questions relating to the post-Covid return, please get in touch.