Are there dangers of gas in telecommunications? 

The telecommunication industry contains includes cable providers, internet service providers, satellite providers and telephone providers and confined spaces. Even simple above ground termination boxes may contain gas hazards that is generated from the cables runs underground. Gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide can run through the cable trunking and appear when the termination box is opened. 

Fixed systems are also required in “hub sites” and remote buildings. These are locations where cables are terminated and junctions or take off points are put into the networks. The danger risk can occur when a worker is sent to do carry out tasks in these locations, that may not have been accessed for a period of time. All telecommunications companies have these in abundance. 

What are the Dangers?

Those working in the telecommunications industry are at risk from many different dangers, all of which could cause harm to their health and safety. Falls from heights are a possibility due to the location of operations from various elevated vantage points, such as communication towers. Therefore, engineers working in the sector are required to secure harnesses whilst ascending telephone poles to check the cables, obviously with suitable training to do so. 

Workers are also at risk due to their proximity to microwave and RF radiation, known as non-ionizing radiation. Working amongst, or near to, electromagnetic waves can lead to severe long-term health issues, such as cancer and leukaemia, although unproven. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and chronic fatigue are also found in individuals who are exposed to heat waves over a long period of time. Whilst little is proven linking disease to these adverse environments, awareness of them and minimising the risks that could lead to adverse effects is a well-known safety principle. 

Electrical issues such as fluctuating voltage and associated malfunctions and short circuits, put workers at risk of electrocution. Training and proper PPE can help protect workers from these hazards. 

Gas Hazards and Risks 

As there are many confined spaces in the telecommunication industry workers are more at risk from the presence of hazardous and toxic gases here. Hazardous gases can also be linked to seemingly-simple above-ground termination boxes. Gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide sometimes travel through the cable trunking, and therefore, when the termination box is opened, a build-up of these gases can be released. 

Fixed systems in the telecommunication sector also pose a gas risk, specifically in “hub sites” and remote buildings. These locations are dangerous, where cables are terminated and junctions or take off points are put into the networks. The danger risk can become present when a worker is sent to carry out tasks in locations that may not have been accessed for a period of time. This is very common in the telecommunication sector, where the trend towards more reliable equipment results in a reduce need for intervention. Although a positive, increased risks such as these, and the presence of toxic gases that can harm human health needs to be managed and mitigated. This is why it is so important to make sure that all workers have access to the proper gas detection equipment. 

Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces with high levels of methane in the air reduce the amount of oxygen available to breathe and therefore can cause mood changes, speech and vision problems, memory loss, nausea, sickness, facial flushing and headaches. In more severe cases and prolonged exposure, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness. There is also a risk of fire as methane is highly flammable. 

Carbon monoxide (CO) consumption also poses serious health issues to workers, with those ingesting the toxic substance facing flu-like symptoms, chest pain, confusion, fainting arrhythmias, seizures, or even worse health effects for high or long lasting exposures. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) poisoning causes similar issues, as well as delirium, tremors, convulsions, and skin and eye irritation. High concentrations of H2S can produce extremely rapid unconsciousness and death. 

Our solution 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include Tetra 3 and T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard and Xgard Bright. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the telecommunication industry our panels include Gasmaster 

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in telecommunication visit our industry page for more information. 

Transportation and Key Gas Challenges 

The transportation sector is one of the largest industries in the world, spanning a variety of applications. The sector offers services concerned with the movement of people and cargo of all types, across air freight and logistics, airlines and airport services, road and rail, transportation infrastructure, trucking, highways, rail tracks, and marine ports and services. 

Gas hazards during transportation  

The transport of dangerous goods is regulated in order to prevent, accidents involving people or property, damage to the environment. There a numerous gas hazards including the transportation of hazardous material, air conditioning emissions, cabin combustion and hangar leaks.  

The transportation of hazardous materials poses a risk to those involved. There are nine classification areas specified by the United Nations (UN) including explosives, gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidising substances, toxic substances, radioactive materials, corrosive substances and miscellaneous goods. With the risk of an accident occurring being more likely when transporting these materials. Although the biggest cause for concern within the industry being the transportation of non-flammable non-toxic gas is asphyxiation. As a slow leak in a storage container can drain all of the oxygen in the air and cause the individuals in the environment to suffocate. 

Leaks within aircraft hangars and fuel storage areas of highly explosive aviation fuel is an area that must be monitored to prevent fires, equipment damage, and at the worst fatalities. It is essential to choose a suitable gas detection solution that focuses on the aircraft rather than the aircraft hangar, avoids false alarms, and can monitor large areas. 

Not only is it the external environment that faces gas risks in transportation, those working in the sector also face similar challenges. Air conditioning emissions poses a gas hazard threat due to the burning of fossil fuels leading to a subsequent emission of carbon monoxide (CO). high levels of CO in a confined area such as a vehicle cabin, of more than the normal level (30ppm) or an oxygen level below normal (19%) can result in dizziness, feeling and being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Therefore, proper ventilation in these spaces with the assistance of a gas detector is paramount to ensuring the safe of those working in the transportation industry.  

Similarly, in the air sector cabin combustion and fuselage fires, in the central portion of an airplane, poses a real threat. Although flame retardant materials are applied, if a fire does start the cabin’s trim and fittings can still generate toxic gases and vapours that could be more dangerous than the fire itself. Inhalation of harmful gases caused by a fire in these environments tend to be the main direct cause of fatalities.  

Transportation Standards and Certifications 

Each mode of transport, (road, rail, air, sea and inland waterway) has its own regulations but they are generally harmonized with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), enacted in the USA in 1975, states that regardless of the type of transportation, any company whose goods fall into one of the nine categories specified as hazardous by the UN, must comply with the regulations or risk fines and penalties. 

Those working in the transport sector in the UK must comply with the requirements laid out in the UN Model Regulations which assigns each dangerous substance or article a specific class that correlates how dangerous it is. It does this via the packing group (PG) classification, according to PG I, PG II or PG III. 

From an European standpoint the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) governs the regulations on how to classify, pack, label and certify dangerous goods. It also comprises vehicle and tank requirements and other operational requirements. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (2009) also is relevant in England, Wales and Scotland. 

Other relevant regulations include the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Navigation (ADN), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instruction 

Our solution 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include T4x, Clip SGD, Gasman, Tetra 3, Gas-pro, T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard, Xgard Bright, IRmax. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the transportation industry our panels include Gasmaster and Vortex 

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in transportation visit our industry page for more information.  

Our Partnership with CSL

Background

CSL is one of the largest providers of gas detection in the Irish market and the leading provider of plant and supporting services to the water, wastewater, environmental and industrial sectors. With headquarters in County Carlow, Republic of Ireland, CSL provide 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year maintenance and support to their customers nationwide through their network of engineers and support personnel located across the country. CSL is a customer-focused company providing a one-stop-shop to their clients. With over 30 years of experience, CSL delivers effective gas detection solutions for the long term. CSL supplies a wide range of gas detection products, from portable devices to complete fixed gas detection systems and customised installations in many sectors. 

Views on gas detection

As a critical safety issue, CSL put the design, equipment selection, long-term maintenance, and clarity of the alarm system to the forefront of our gas detection solutions. “We understand that there is always a balance between investment and striving for the highest level of gas safety. Still, from our point of view, safety wins every time as cutting costs in an area as vital as gas safety is a false economy. This is one of the main reasons we work very hard to develop the relationship and partnership and promote the Crowcon Gas Safety product range. When we meet with our clients and discuss their gas safety challenges, the conversation inevitably discusses costs. Because of the sizeable Crowcon product range, we always have a solution that will meet their budget and safety requirements.”- Peter Nicholson, Head of Marketing. 

Working with Crowcon

A 30-year partnership and continued communication have allowed CSL to supply their customers with gas detection solutions. “Providing fixed and portable solutions ensures a gas safety package that will work for any company or organisation that depends on high-quality gas detection and related equipment.” – Peter Nicholson, Head of Marketing. We’re thrilled to be working alongside CSL to provide gas detection to the Irish market and support with services to the water, wastewater, environmental and industrial sectors. With over 30 years of experience, CSL delivers effective gas detection solutions for the long term through the supply of our portable devices and fixed gas detection systems. 

Our Partnership with Shawcity 

Background

Established in 1976, Shawcity was one of the first companies to introduce specialist gas detection devices to the UK and Irish markets from leading manufacturers around the world. For over 45 years, they have focused on providing the latest monitoring technology in partnership with leading manufacturers to customers across the UK and Ireland.  

Shawcity supports those working in health and safety, occupational hygiene and environmental applications who rely on achieving the highest levels of performance. With instruments available to hire or buy, Shawcity has the capacity to ensure each order is tailored to meet individual project demands. Their portfolio offers an extensive range of monitoring detection including fixed gas detection, potable gas detection and air quality.  

Views on Gas Detection

As the focus on workplace health continues to develop, a better understanding of the ways workers can be impacted is leading to changes in legislation and an increasing responsibility for employers to protect their employees at work. Gas detection, in particular, is critical in terms of potential safety and can, in some cases, involve an immediate threat to life. Ensuring the correct equipment is provided and maintained is one of the key responsibilities that health and safety officers have.  

The latest technology also means that effective monitoring on a personal, area or environmental level has never been easier to achieve. Shawcity works with every customer to ensure the right equipment is supplied for the job every time and also offer free product training. 

Working with Crowcon

The partnership between Crowcon and Shawcity provides an unbeatable combination of industry knowledge and expertise. The two companies work closely together on fixed gas detection projects across many sectors to provide the complete package, from site surveys, planning and design through to installation, commissioning and ongoing service and maintenance.  

Now supplying our portable range, Shawcity now can support an even wider range of new markets and sectors. “Shawcity is an official Trusted Partner. Crowcon and Shawcity collaborate at every stage of the gas detection process – from product development through to technical support – to deliver the best possible service to customers” – Nathan Marks, Fixed Gas Detection Manager at Shawcity. 

Detecting dangers in dairy: What gases should you be aware of? 

Global demand for dairy continues to increase in large part due to population growth, rising incomes and urbanisation. Millions of farmers worldwide tend approximately 270 million dairy cows to produce milk. Throughout the dairy farm industry there are a variety of gas hazards that pose a risk to those working in the dairy industry.  

What are the dangers workers face in the dairy industry?

Chemicals

Throughout the dairy farm industry, chemicals are used for variety of tasks including cleaning, applying various treatments such as vaccinations or medications, antibiotics, sterilising and spraying. If these chemicals and hazardous substances are not used or stored correctly, this can result in serious harm to the worker or the surrounding environment. Not only can these chemicals cause illness, but there is also a risk of death if a person is exposed. Some chemicals can be flammable and explosive whilst others are corrosive and poisonous. 

There are several ways to manage these chemical hazards, although the main concern should be in implementing a process and procedure. This procedure should ensure all staff are trained in the safe use of chemicals with records being maintained. As part of the chemical procedure, this should include a chemical manifest for tracking purposes. This type of inventory management allows for all personal to have access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) as well as usage and location records. Alongside this manifest, there should be consideration for the review of current operation.  

  • What is the current procedure?  
  • What PPE is required?  
  • What is the process for discarding out of date chemicals and is there is a substitute chemical that could pose less of a risk to your workers? 

Confined Spaces

There are numerous circumstances that could require a worker to enter a confined space, including feed silos, milk vats, water tanks and pits in the dairy industry. The safest way to eliminate a confined space hazard, as mentioned by many industry bodies, is to employ a safe design. This will include the removal of any need to enter a confined space. Although, this may not be realistic and from time to time, cleaning routines need to take place, or a blockage may occur, however, there is a requirement to ensure there is the correct procedures to address the hazard. 

Chemical agents when used in a confined space can increase the risk of suffocation with gases pushing out oxygen. One way you can eliminate this risk is by cleaning the vat from the outside using a high-pressure hose. If a worker does need to enter the confined space, check that the correct signage is in place since entry and exit points will be restricted. You should consider isolation switches and check that your staff understand the correct emergency rescue procedure if something were to happen. 

Gas Hazards

Ammonia (NH3) is found in animal waste and slurry spreading on farming and agricultural land. It is characteristically a colourless gas with a pungent smell that arises through the decomposition of nitrogen compounds in animal waste. Not only is it harmful to human health but also harmful to livestock wellbeing, due to its ability to cause respiratory diseases in livestock, and eye irritation, blindness, lung damage, alongside nose and throat damage and even death in humans. Ventilation is a key requirement in preventing health issues, as poor ventilation heightens the damage caused by this gas.  

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is naturally produced in the atmosphere; although, levels are increased through farming and agricultural processes. CO2, is colourless, odourless, and is emitted from agricultural equipment, crop and livestock production and other farming processes. CO2 can congregate areas, such as waste tanks and silos. This results in oxygen in the air to be displaced and increasing the risk of suffocation for animals and humans.  Sealed silos, waste and grain storage spaces are specifically dangerous as CO2 can accumulate here and lead to them being unsuitable for humans without an external air supply. 

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen oxides (NOx). At worst, it can cause sudden death when consumed even from short term exposure. This gas can cause suffocation and is emitted from silos following specific chemical reactions of plant material. It is recognisable by its bleach-like smell and its properties tend to create a red-brown haze. As it gathers above certain surfaces it can run into areas with livestock through silo chutes, and therefore poses a real danger to humans and animals in the surrounding area. It can also affect lung function, cause internal bleeding, and ongoing respiratory problems. 

When should gas detectors be used?

Gas detectors provide added value anywhere on dairy farms and around slurry silos, but above all: 

  • When and where slurry is being mixed 
  • During pumping and bringing out slurry
  • On and around the tractor during slurry mixing or spreading 
  • In the stable during maintenance work on slurry pumps, slurry scrapers and the like 
  • Near and around small openings and cracks in the floor, e.g., around milking robots 
  • Low to the ground in poorly ventilated corners and spaces (H2S is heavier than air and sinks to the floor) 
  • In slurry silos 
  • In slurry tanks 

Products that can help to protect yourself 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Installation of a fixed gas detector can benefit a larger space to provide continuous area and staff protection 24 hours a day. However, a portable detector can be more suited for worker’s safety. 

To find out more on the dangers in agriculture and farming, visit our industry page for more information. 

Our Partnership With Teksal 

Background

Crowcon has been working with Australian-based industrial safety supplier Teksal Safety for more than 10 years, so we thought we’d share some of the ways it helps support our gas detection solutions. 

Founded in 2002, Teksal Safety provides industrial safety solutions for process and pressure safety, machine and automation safety, and operations and maintenance safety applications in industrial, mining, and oil and gas sectors. They work with safety professionals, engineers, plant operators, and maintenance personnel to deliver optimal solutions and minimise risk. Focused on providing industrial safety solutions that help protect people, plant, process, Teksal Safety sources and supplies a range of Crowcon’s portable and fixed gas detectors for diverse applications. 

Views on Gas Detection  

While oil and gas operators and teams working in environments with flammable and toxic gases are exposed to some level of risk, Teksal Safety strives to provide proven industrial safety solutions to help mitigate this risk, including Crowcon’s suite of gas detection products. 

By focusing firstly on awareness of risk, then embedding best practice and innovative solutions, Teksal Safety helps industrial operators provide a safe work environment for their people, and safe ways of working, through its distribution and maintenance of Crowcon gas detection products. 

Teksal Safety’s goal is to “protect people, plant and process. Safety culture often emphasises administrative controls and things like PPE. While these play a key role within a wider HSE programme, we focus on engineered controls to mitigate risk at a high level. While we have solutions that tackle administrative issues that capture residual risk, our main aim is to mitigate the risks further up the chain.” – Joe Hischar, Managing Director.  

Working with Crowcon 

While oil and gas operators and teams working in environments with flammable and toxic gases are exposed to some level of risk, Teksal Safety strives to provide proven industrial safety solutions to help mitigate this risk, including Crowcon’s suite of gas detection products. Our collaboration allows Teksal to source and supply a range of personal gas detectors to meet diverse applications and requirements. “Working on remote sites in Australia can be challenging. As its products are designed with safety in mind, Crowcon allows us to provide proven safety solutions and help protect our customers’ people, plant and process.” – Joe Hischar, Managing Director.  

The Benefits of MPS Sensors 

Developed by NevadaNano, Molecular Property Spectrometer™ (MPS™) sensors represent the new generation of flammable gas detectors. MPS™ can quickly detect over 15 characterised flammable gases at once. Until recently, anyone who needed to monitor flammable gases had to select either a traditional flammable gas detector containing a pellistor sensor calibrated for a specific gas, or containing an infra-red (IR) sensor which also varies in output according to the flammable gas being measured, and hence needs to be calibrated for each gas. While these remain beneficial solutions, they are not always ideal. For example, both sensor types require regular calibration and the catalytic pellistor sensors also need frequent bump testing to ensure they have not been damaged by contaminants (known as ‘sensor poisoning’ agents) or by harsh conditions. In some environments, sensors must frequently be changed, which is costly in terms of both money and downtime, or product availability. IR technology cannot detect hydrogen – which has no IR signature, and both IR and pellistor detectors sometimes incidentally detect other (i.e., non-calibrated) gases, giving inaccurate readings that may trigger false alarms or concern operators. 

The MPS™ sensor delivers key features that provide real world tangible benefits to operator and hence workers. These include: 

No calibration  

When implementing a system containing a fixed head detector, it is common practice to service on a recommended schedule defined by manufacturer. This entails ongoing regular costs as well potentially disrupting production or process in order service or even gain access to detector or multiple detectors. There may also be a risk to personnel when detectors are mounted in particularly hazardous environments. Interaction with an MPS sensor is less stringent because there are no unrevealed failure modes, provided air is present. It would be wrong to say there is no calibration requirement. One factory calibration, followed by a gas test when commissioning is sufficient, because there is an internal automated calibration being performed every 2 seconds throughout the working life of the sensor. What is really meant is – no customer calibration. 

The Xgard Bright with MPS™ sensor technology does not require calibration. This in turn reduces the interaction with the detector resulting in a lower total cost of ownership over the sensor life cycle and reduced risk to personnel and production output to complete regular maintenance. It is still advisable to check the cleanliness of the gas detector from time to time, since gas can’t get through thick build ups of obstructive material and wouldn’t then reach the sensor. 

Multi species gas – ‘True LEL’™  

Many industries and applications use or have as a by-product multiple gases within the same environment. This can be challenging for traditional sensor technology which can detect only a single gas that they were calibrated for at the correct level and can result in inaccurate reading and even false alarms which can halt process or production if another flammable gas type is present. The lack of response or over response frequently faced in multi gas environments can be frustrating and counterproductive compromising safety of best user practices. The MPS™ sensor can accurately detect multiple gases at once and instantly identify gas type. Additionally, the MPS™ sensor has a on board environmental compensation and does not require an externally applied correctional factor. Inaccurate readings and false alarms are a thing of the past.  

No sensor poisoning  

In certain environments traditional sensor types can be under risk of poisoning. Extreme pressure, temperature, and humidity all have the potential to damage sensors whist environmental toxins and contaminants can ‘poison’ sensors, leading to severely compromised performance. Detectors in environments where poisons or inhibitors may be encountered, regular and frequent testing is the only way to ensure that performance is not being degraded. Sensor failure due to poisoning can be a costly experience. The technology in the MPS™ sensor is not affected by contaminates in the environment. Processes that have contaminates now have access to a solution that operates reliably with fail safe design to alert operator to offer a peace of mind for personnel and assets located in hazardous environment. Additionally, the MPS sensor is not harmed by elevated flammable gas concentrations, which may cause cracking in conventional catalytic sensor types for example. The MPS sensor carries on working. 

Hydrogen (H2)

The usage of Hydrogen in industrial processes is increasing as the focus to find a cleaner alternative to natural gas usage. Detection of Hydrogen is currently restricted to pellistor, metal oxide semiconductor, electrochemical and less accurate thermal conductivity sensor technology due to Infra-Red sensors inability to detect Hydrogen. When faced with challenges highlighted above in poisoning or false alarms, the current solution can leave operator with frequent bump testing and servicing in addition to false alarm challenges. The MPS™ sensor provides a far better solution for Hydrogen detection, removing the challenges faced with traditional sensor technology. A long-life, relatively fast responding hydrogen sensor that does not require calibration throughout the life cycle of the sensor, without the risk of poisoning or false alarms, can significantly save on total cost of ownership and reduces interaction with unit resulting in peace of mind and reduced risk for operators leveraging MPS™ technology. All of this is possible thanks to MPS™ technology, which is the biggest breakthrough in gas detection for several decades. The Gasman with MPS is hydrogen (H2) ready. A single MPS sensor accurately detects hydrogen and common hydrocarbons in a fail-safe, poison-resistant solution without recalibration.

For more on Crowcon, visit https://www.crowcon.com or for more on MPSTM visit https://www.crowcon.com/mpsinfixed/  

Carbon Dioxide: What are the dangers in the Food and Beverage Industry? 

Almost all industries must monitor gas hazards, with the food and beverage industry no exception. Although, there is a lack of awareness regarding the dangers of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the dangers those working in the industry face. CO2 is the most common gas in the food and beverage industry because it is used in the carbonation of drinks, to propel beverages to the tap in pubs and restaurants and to keep food items cold during transportation in the form of dry ice. It is also naturally produced in beverage manufacturing processes by leavening agents like yeast and sugar. Although CO2 may seem harmless at first glance as we exhale it with every breath, and plants need it for survival, the presence of carbon dioxide becomes a problem when its concentration rises to dangerous levels.

The Dangers of CO2

Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere (typically 0.04% in air). CO2 is colourless and odourless, heavier than air, and tends to sink to the floor. CO2 collects in cellars and at the bottom of containers and confined spaces such as tanks or silos.

Since CO2 is heavier than air, it quickly displaces oxygen at high concentrations can result in asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen or breathable air. Exposure to CO2 is easy, especially in a confined space like a tank or a cellar. Early symptoms of exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide include dizziness, headaches, and confusion, followed by loss of consciousness. Accidents and fatalities occur in the food and beverage industry due to a carbon dioxide leak. Without proper detection methods and processes in place, everyone at a facility could be at risk.

Gas Monitors – what are the benefits?

Any application that uses carbon dioxide puts workers at risk, and the only way to identify high levels before it’s too late is to use gas monitors.

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Installation of a fixed gas detector can benefit a larger space such as plant rooms to provide continuous area and staff protection 24 hours a day. However, a portable detector can be more suited for worker safety in and around the cylinder storage area and in spaces designated as a confined space. This is especially true for pubs and beverage dispensing outlets for the safety of workers and those unfamiliar with the environment, such as delivery drivers, sales teams or equipment technicians. The portable unit can easily be clipped to clothing and will detect pockets of CO2 using alarms and visual signals, indicating that the user should immediately vacate the area.

Personal gas detectors continuously monitor the air in workers’ breathing zone when worn correctly,  to give them better awareness and the information they need to make smart decisions in the face of danger. Not only can gas monitors detect carbon dioxide in the air, but they can also alert others if an employee is in danger. Carbon dioxide can be monitored using a single gas monitor or by using a multi-gas monitor with a dedicated carbon dioxide sensor. It is important to note the carbon dioxide can escalate to dangerous levels before an oxygen sensor would alarm.

Gold Mining: What gas detection do I need? 

How is gold mined?

Gold is a rare substance equating to 3 parts per billion of the earth’s outer layer, with most of the world’s available gold coming from Australia. Gold, like iron, copper and lead, is a metal. There are two primary forms of gold mining, including open-cut and underground mining. Open mining involves earth-moving equipment to remove waste rock from the ore body above, and then mining is conducted from the remaining substance. This process requires waste and ore to be struck at high volumes to break the waste and ore into sizes suitable for handling and transportation to both waste dumps and ore crushers. The other form of gold mining is the more traditional underground mining method. This is where vertical shafts and spiral tunnels transport workers and equipment into and out of the mine, providing ventilation and hauling the waste rock and ore to the surface.

Gas detection in mining

When relating to gas detection, the process of health and safety within mines has developed considerably over the past century, from morphing from the crude usage of methane wick wall testing, singing canaries and flame safety to modern-day gas detection technologies and processes as we know them. Ensuring the correct type of detection equipment is utilised, whether fixed or portable, before entering these spaces. Proper equipment utilisation will ensure gas levels are accurately monitored, and workers are alerted to dangerous concentrations within the atmosphere at the earliest opportunity.

What are the gas hazards and what are the dangers?

The dangers those working within the mining industry face several potential occupational hazards and diseases, and the possibility of fatal injury. Therefore, understanding the environments and hazards, they may be exposed to is important.

Oxygen (O2)

Oxygen (O2), usually present in the air at 20.9%, is essential to human life. There are three main reasons why oxygen poses a threat to workers within the mining industry. These include oxygen deficiencies or enrichment, as too little oxygen can prevent the human body from functioning leading to the worker losing consciousness. Unless the oxygen level can be restored to an average level, the worker is at risk of potential death. An atmosphere is deficient when the concentration of O2 is less than 19.5%. Consequently, an environment with too much oxygen is equally dangerous as this constitutes a greatly increased risk of fire and explosion. This is considered when the concentration level of O2 is over 23.5%

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

In some cases, high concentrations of Carbon Monoxide (CO) may be present. Environments that this may occur include a house fire, therefore the fire service are at risk of CO poisoning. In this environment there can be as much as 12.5% CO in the air which when the carbon monoxide rises to the ceiling with other combustion products and when the concentration hits 12.5% by volume this will only lead to one thing, called a flashover. This is when the whole lot ignites as a fuel. Apart from items falling on the fire service, this is one of the most extreme dangers they face when working inside a burning building. Due to the characteristics of CO being so hard to identify, I.e., colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas, it may take time for you to realise that you have CO poisoning. The effects of CO can be dangerous, this is because CO prevents the blood system from effectively carrying oxygen around the body, specifically to vital organs such as the heart and brain. High doses of CO, therefore, can cause death from asphyxiation or lack of oxygen to the brain. According to statistics from the Department of Health, the most common indication of CO poisoning is that of a headache with 90% of patients reporting this as a symptom, with 50% reporting nausea and vomiting, as well as vertigo. With confusion/changes in consciousness, and weakness accounting for 30% and 20% of reports.

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S)

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a colourless, flammable gas with a characteristic odour of rotten eggs. Skin and eye contact may occur. However, the nervous system and cardiovascular system are most affected by hydrogen sulphide, which can lead to a range of symptoms. Single exposures to high concentrations may rapidly cause breathing difficulties and death.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) can cause several harmful effects on the respiratory systems, in particular the lung. It can also cause skin irritation. Skin contact with (SO2) causes stinging pain, redness of the skin and blisters. Skin contact with compressed gas or liquid can cause frostbite. Eye contact causes watering eyes and, in severe cases, blindness can occur.

Methane (CH4)

Methane (CH4) is a colourless, highly flammable gas with a primary component being that of natural gas. High levels of (CH4) can reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air, which can result in mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache. In severe cases, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness. Although, if exposure is for a longer period, it can result in fatality.

Hydrogen (H2)

Hydrogen Gas is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas which is lighter than air. As it is lighter than air this means it float higher than our atmosphere, meaning it is not naturally found, but instead must be created. Hydrogen poses a fire or explosion risk as well as an inhalation risk. High concentrations of this gas can cause an oxygen-deficient environment. Individuals breathing such an atmosphere may experience symptoms which include headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting and depression of all the senses

Ammonia (NH3)

Ammonia (NH3) is one of the most widely used chemicals globally that is produced both in the human body and in nature. Although it is naturally created (NH3) is corrosive which poses a serve concern for health. High exposure within the air can result in immediate burning to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Serve cases can result in blindness.

Other gas risks

Whilst Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) doesn’t persist within the environment, improper storage, handling and waste management can pose severe risk to human health as well as effects on the environment. Cyanide interferes with human respiration at cellular levels that can cause serve and acute effects, including rapid breathing, tremors, asphyxiation.

Diesel particulate exposure can occur in underground mines as a result of diesel-powered mobile equipment used for drilling and haulage. Although control measures include the use of low sulphur diesel fuel, engine maintenance and ventilation, health implication includes excess risk of lung cancer.

Products that can help to protect yourself

Crowcon provide a range of gas detection including both portable and fixed products all of which are suitable for gas detection within the mining industry.

To find out more visit our industry page here.

Our Partnership with Altitude Safety

Background

Altitude Safety has developed into one of the UK’s leading Confined Space and Site Safety Equipment suppliers. Supplying a product portfolio of over 10,000 products from the leading global manufacturers and with their dedicated fleet, Altitude Safety can deliver your safety solutions nationwide. Altitude Safety is part of the Citrus Group and has a client base of more than 35,000, thereby offering truly extensive and multifaceted provision. The Group aims to keep focused on Safety Equipment, Education and Training whilst also providing an effective and complete safety and training solution trusted by industries worldwide.

Views on Gas Detection

Providing both portable and fixed systems allows Altitude Safety’s customers to have a full solution option best suited to their needs and requirements. In regard to portable gas detection being a critical piece of safety equipment, Altitude Safety put customers at the forefront of gas detection, providing equipment in gas detection that not only protects their customers plants and processes but, more importantly, helps to prevent injury, thereby helping to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of its workers. Also, with the supply of fixed gas detection, Altitude Safety can offer its customers a complete turnkey solution for both new and replacement systems. Altitude Safety ensures the customers’ requirements through complete site surveys to provide advice on the best location of sensor heads, cable runs, and control panels. Whilst also offering a complete service from supply, installation, commissioning, and ongoing service/calibration contracts.

Maintaining and servicing safety products is key to ensuring that it remains in tip-top condition and ultimately works correctly at the critical time. Their manufacture approved service centre is operated via a team of dedicated and manufacturer-trained technicians. From receipt into our warehouse, Altitude Safety prides itself in being meticulously careful with the products ensuring that they are maintained, serviced and packaged correctly, ready for their customers to get back to operating as soon as possible.

Working with Crowcon

Through continuous communication of knowledge and expertise with Altitude Safety, our partnership has allowed for the supply of gas detection instruments for those working in the confined space and utility industries. “Our partnership with Crowcon has allowed us to provide a full turnkey solution for our customers and qualified service centres. We can provide a critical safety product to a range of industries, environments and workers to ensure safety for those involved”.