How not to use a gas detector

At Crowcon, we combine our expertise with emerging technologies to develop process insights and protection for our customers; improving operational efficiency and creating healthier and safer workplaces. Over the years, our experts have come across an array of shocking cases of gas detectors being used dangerously.

In this article, we’ll explore just some of the extreme cases we’ve seen where gas detection equipment has been used in error, in the hope that we can reduce accidents and fatalities in hazardous environments.

Detector Orientation
detector orientation

To ensure the correct response and efficiency of your gas detector, all detectors should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All devices should be installed in an upright position allowing the device to work at full capacity. The only Crowcon device in our range that should be installed horizontally is the IRmax.

Control Panel/Detector Proximity
control panel proximity

We’ve seen control panels placed near or next to gas detectors. You wouldn’t install a light switch at the back of a room so why would you put yourself and others in danger by putting your control panel next to your gas detector?

This Gasmaster Control panel and Xgard detector are in close proximity. In the case of a gas alarm, someone would have to enter the hazardous area to gain access to the control panel.

In the case of a gas alarm emergency, a worker would have to enter the hazardous area to access the control panel- that time could lead to a fatality. The most effective solution would be to install the control panel in a safe area away from the gas environment and deploy both audio and visual alarms. We have a range of detectors available with local displays such as the Xgard Bright.

Contaminated Sensors

Over time gas sensors can become contaminated by dirt or debris from its surroundings, which could prevent gas reaching the sensor. This could mean that the sensors stop responding to high levels of hazardous gas. We recommend bump testing (functional testing) frequently and regularly to ensure the detector has not developed faults and is working to its full capacity.

How frequently you should bump test depends on regional standards, the manufacturer’s recommendation, specific site risk assessments and how frequently the unit is used. To prevent contaminated sensors and build up, replaceable, external filter plates are available.

Gas Detector Housing

Choosing the best housing material for your gas detector could make a large difference to its lifetime and performance. For example, for more extreme and hostile environments, stainless steel housings would be more suitable to avoid corrosion. Our Xgard gas detector comes in two certification options; intrinsically safe or flameproof and three housing material options; high-grade alloy, stainless steel or chemically resistant CRN polymer. If you’re unsure of which housing would be most suited to your environment, our experts are happy to help.

Maintaining Damaged Sensors
maintaining damaged sensors

Using sensors when they are damage pose a significant risk to users. Various detectors within our range such as the Xgard Bright and Flamgard Plus can be calibrated using a magnet to access the device menu. These magnetic keys have been designed to allow non-intrusive calibration in the ATEX hazardous areas. Our experts have seen cases where users have opened the unit to attempt to access the keys directly. This negates the certification and could pose a risk as opening the unit in this fashion could be an ignition source.

Fixed Detectors Should Be Permanently Installed
fixed perm

Fixed detectors are designed to be permanently installed in a fixed location, and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Fixed detectors should not in any circumstance be attached to rope or a flying lead to ‘be made into a portable detector’. In atmosphere explosible (ATEX) hazardous environments its essential to follow installation and safety information in the user manual provided by the manufacturer to maintain certification.

Portable Detectors Should NOT Be Permanently Installed
portable gas detector in charging dock

We’re not just repeating ourselves; this is something we have seen a handful of times. Users should not use a portable detector in its charger as a permanent monitor. Instead, if required and suitable a fixed gas detector should be installed. Portable detectors are designed to be worn by the user, so the device is monitoring the ‘immediate breathing zone’. By using a portable device as a fixed device, it is impossible for anyone outside of the hazardous area to know if there is a gas risk.

Installation In Compliance With Certifications
installation compliance

It is essential to follow the manufacturers instruction manual when installing any gas detector, to be compliant with the safety certification. For example, when installing a Crowcon Xgard type 5, it should always be installed with Exd cable glands to ensure that any internal flames, or explosions are not transmitted to the surrounding atmosphere. Certification requirements are put in place to avoid the risk of detectors becoming an ignition source.

The environment must also be considered to determine what device is best suited. In this example, we’ve seen the Xgard type 5 device in a very humid environment- a sampling system would be better for applications with high humidity and condensing moisture, because moisture would be removed from the sample before it reached the detector, improving the probability of detection.

We’re on hand to ensure that companies use gas detection equipment safely and effectively. If you’re unsure of how to maintain your equipment, please get in touch.

Get in touch

We’re on hand to ensure that companies use gas detection equipment safely and effectively. If you’re unsure of how to maintain your equipment, please get in touch.