How to use a gas detector for safety

There are many different types of gas detectors, but they are generally used in industrial environments to detect the presence of various gases, including toxic, flammable and combustible gases. Firefighters also use portable gas detectors to check oxygen levels in the air. The purpose of a gas detector is normally to automatically shut down equipment and/or sound an alarm that will alert staff to unsafe working conditions.

Portable gas detectors

When using a portable gas detector in a confined space such as at work, employees will normally be responsible for checking and maintaining their own detector. Any damage or faults should be reported to management and the gas detector should not be used until this has been rectified. Some portable gas detectors can be calibrated to measure up to 6 different gases! Sensors on the unit will check the gas levels in the area and sound or show an audible or visual alarm. It’s important to follow the below tips when using a portable gas detector:

  • Make sure you have been trained and know how to operate the equipment
  • Check the display is clear, easy to read and free from damage
  • Ensure the gas detector is well-maintained and in working order – report any damage immediately
  • Check the alarm is functioning properly

Some gas detectors will sound an audible alarm, but for some workers, a visual alarm such as a bright flashing LED may be more appropriate (for example if workers are wearing ear defenders.) It is also possible to find gas detectors which offer a vibrating alarm.

Using gas detectors safely

Flammable gas detectors which are not portable are also commonly used in industrial environments which produce flammable vapours and gas. These units should be regularly checked and maintained by qualified engineers and they should be calibrated to sound an alarm at gas levels that are low enough to ensure the health and safety of staff – industry recommendations should be referred to when setting up the gas detector.

Accidents involving gas detectors

You could be injured whilst using or setting up a gas detector at work – for example, you could be electrocuted whilst using poorly maintained equipment. You could also suffer illness or injury due to a gas detector failing to alert you of toxic or flammable gases in the environment; if it has not been set up properly or is faulty, you could be put at risk. Whatever your situation, if you have been involved in an accident at work and someone else is to blame, call Accident Advice Helpline.

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