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If you'd like to know about instrument calibration, this guide will give you a solid overview of what you need to know.
Otherwise, you can use the links below to jump to the sections of this article that interest you most.
Now, let's start from the beginning, shall we?
Portable Gas Monitors 101
Gas monitors detect and measure the concentration of gases in the air. Generally, they are used in industrial environments like construction, mining, oil and gas, chemical manufacturing, and waste management to prevent accidents caused by gas leaks or other hazards that threaten worker safety.
Several different types of gas monitors are used in industrial settings. In just a moment, we will cover the two most used instruments, single-gas monitors and multi-gas monitors. Gas monitors can detect many different gases. It all depends on the type of sensor built into your device.
Some common gases detected by gas monitors include carbon monoxide, oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. It is in many industrial settings, including power plants, oil refineries, and manufacturing facilities. In high concentrations, CO can be hazardous to human health. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
Oxygen (O2) is a gas you can't live without, but it can also be hazardous in certain situations. For example, a high oxygen concentration can be explosive and may increase the risk of fires or explosions in industrial settings. Oxygen monitors are often used in applications like welding and metal fabrication, where the risk of fire or explosion is high because of flammable materials in the workplace.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a toxic gas produced by the breakdown of organic matter, and it is often found in industries such as oil and gas, sewage treatment, and agriculture. It has a strong, rotten egg smell, but it can disable your sense of smell and become undetectable at high concentrations. Symptoms of H2S poisoning also include headache, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a group of chemicals found in many industrial and household products, including paints, solvents, and adhesives. In large quantities, these chemicals are also dangerous for you and could cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Single Gas Monitors v. Multi Gas Monitors
Single gas monitors are designed to detect and measure the concentration of one gas, like carbon monoxide or oxygen. These monitors are typically small and portable. You can often wear them as part of your personal protective equipment (PPE) to alert you to the presence of a gas that may be hazardous to your health.
On the other hand, multi-gas monitors are designed to simultaneously detect and measure the concentration of multiple gases. These monitors are still portable but typically bigger and more complex than single gas monitors.
Gas Monitor Maintenance and Calibration
It is essential to conduct regular maintenance and calibration if you want to rely on your gas monitor to protect you when you need it. This usually involves checking the battery life, sensors, and other components of the monitor to ensure it is functioning correctly.
Calibration involves comparing the readings of the gas monitor to known concentrations of the gas being measured and making any necessary adjustments to ensure that the monitor provides accurate readings.
Bump testing is another critical aspect of gas monitor maintenance. Bump testing involves exposing the gas monitor to a known concentration of the gas being measured and checking to see if the monitor can accurately detect the presence of the gas. This should be done regularly to ensure your gas monitor is functioning correctly and providing accurate readings.
Calibration Gas 101
Calibration gas is a mixture of gases used to calibrate gas monitors and other gas detection instruments. Calibration gas is typically supplied in a portable cylinder or canister, which allows you to verify the accuracy and trustworthiness of your gas monitors by comparing their readings to known concentrations of the measured gases.
By calibrating gas monitors regularly, employers and workers can ensure that the monitors are providing accurate readings and alerting workers to the presence of hazardous gases.
There are many different types of calibration gases available, and the specific kind of calibration gas used depends on the type of gases being detected and the requirements of the work environment.
Some common types of calibration gases include:
1. Single gas calibration gases: These are mixtures of a single gas, such as carbon monoxide or oxygen, and are used to calibrate single gas monitors.
2. Multi-gas calibration gases: These are mixtures of multiple gases, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and oxygen, and they are used to calibrate multi-gas monitors.
3. Custom calibration gases: These are custom mixtures of gases tailored to the work environment's specific requirements, and they may include a combination of different gases.
Best Practices for Calibrating Gas Monitors
Here are several best practices to follow when calibrating gas monitors and other gas detection instruments:
1. Use the correct type of calibration gas: It is important to use the right kind of calibration gas for the specific gas monitor or instrument being calibrated and to ensure that the concentration of the gases in the calibration gas matches the range of the instrument.
2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions: The manufacturer of the gas monitor or instrument will typically provide specific instructions on calibrating the device, including the frequency of calibration and the procedures to follow. It is essential to follow these instructions carefully to ensure accurate and reliable results.
3. Store calibration gas correctly: Calibration gas should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight. The cylinder or canister should be handled carefully to avoid damage and adequately sealed when not in use to prevent the gases from escaping.
4. Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE): When handling calibration gas, it is important to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against the hazards of the gases being used. This may include respirators, gas masks, gloves, and other protective clothing.
How to Calibrate Your Gas Monitor in 11 Simple Steps
So you want to know how to calibrate your gas monitor? Here are some general steps for calibrating a gas monitor.
You must always consult your manufacturer's guidelines, or even better, use calibration services to ensure the work is done correctly:
1. Check the manufacturer's instructions for specific details on calibrating your gas monitor.
2. Ensure the gas monitor is in good condition and adequately maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
3. If the gas monitor has replaceable sensors, ensure that they are in good condition and have been replaced according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
4. Make sure the gas monitor is clean and free of dirt, dust, and other contaminants that could affect its accuracy.
5. Make sure the gas monitor is fully charged or has fresh batteries.
6. Set up the gas monitor in a well-ventilated area, away from gas sources or other contaminants.
7. Connect the gas monitor to a calibration gas cylinder according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remember, calibration gases are gases prepared to a specific concentration and used to calibrate gas monitors.
8. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for exposing the gas monitor to the calibration gas. This may involve opening the valve on the calibration gas cylinder and allowing a specific amount of gas to flow into the gas monitor.
9. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for adjusting the gas monitor's calibration settings, if necessary. This may involve using buttons or a user interface on the gas monitor to enter the correct calibration settings. Need help with this step? We can help.
10. Test the gas monitor to ensure that it is accurately detecting the calibration gas. This may involve exposing the gas monitor to a known calibration gas concentration and comparing the reading to the expected value.
11. If the gas monitor does not detect the calibration gas, repeat the calibration process until the readings are accurate. Following the manufacturer's instructions carefully when calibrating a gas monitor is important. Each model has specific requirements and procedures. If you need clarification on any step in the process, it's best to consult the manufacturer or a qualified technician for assistance.
Common Types of Calibration Gases
The type of calibration gas you use depends on the specific gas detector and the gases it is designed to detect.
Common gases used for calibration include:
• Carbon monoxide (CO)
• Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
• Oxygen (O2)
• Methane (CH4)
• Propane (C3H8)
Calibration gases are usually supplied in portable cylinders or small canisters and are available in a range of concentrations to allow for calibration over a wide range of sensitivity.
Common Calibration Gas Cylinders and Compatible Regulators
Using a regulator compatible with the cylinder and the gas detector being calibrated is essential.
Here is a list of common calibration gas cylinders and compatible regulators:
Carbon monoxide (CO) cylinders:
• Lumidor CO-1 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L CO cylinders)
• Lumidor CO-2 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L CO cylinders)
• Scott Safety CO-1 regulator (for use with 34L and 58L CO cylinders)
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) cylinders:
• Lumidor H2S-1 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L H2S cylinders)
• Scott Safety H2S-1 regulator (for use with 34L and 58L H2S cylinders)
Oxygen (O2) cylinders:
• Lumidor O2-1 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L O2 cylinders)
• Scott Safety O2-1 regulator (for use with 34L and 58L O2 cylinders)
Methane (CH4) cylinders:
• Lumidor CH4-1 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L CH4 cylinders)
• Scott Safety CH4-1 regulator (for use with 34L and 58L CH4 cylinders)
Propane (C3H8) cylinders:
• Lumidor C3H8-1 regulator (for use with 34L, 58L, and 103L C3H8 cylinders)
• Scott Safety C3H8-1 regulator (for use with 34L and 58L C3H8 cylinders)
Please note this is just a general guide. Like, for real. If you are unskilled or need help consulting the manufacturer's instructions for the specific cylinder and regulator you are using to ensure compatibility, don't try to do this alone.
OSHA’s Two Cents on Calibration Standards
OSHA has a few things to say about calibrating and testing gas meters, but this bulletin does not create a law, regulation, or standard for instrumentation maintenance.
In their bulletin, OSHA emphasizes the importance of proper training and instruction for workers who use portable gas monitors, as well as the importance of regular maintenance and calibration to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the monitors.
Here's a high-level summary for your reading pleasure:
1. Training and instruction: Workers who use portable gas monitors should be appropriately trained and instructed on the proper use and handling of the monitors. This should include information on how to interpret and respond to gas readings and the proper procedures for conducting bump tests and other maintenance tasks.
2. Maintenance and calibration: Portable gas monitors should be regularly maintained and calibrated to ensure their accuracy and reliability. This includes checking the battery life, sensors, and other components of the monitors regularly, as well as calibrating the monitors using known concentrations of the measured gases.
3. Multiple gas monitors: In industries where workers may be exposed to multiple hazardous gases, it is recommended to use various gas monitors to provide a more comprehensive assessment of the work environment. This can help to prevent accidents and injuries by alerting workers to the presence of multiple hazardous gases.
4. Selection of appropriate monitors: It is vital to select gas monitors suitable for the specific work environment and tasks performed. This includes considering the type and concentration of gases that may be present and the size, weight, and other features of the monitors.
5. Use of personal protective equipment (PPE): Workers who use portable gas monitors should also wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators or gas masks, to protect themselves from hazardous gases.
Bump this! Do it for me!
Now for a word on our bump test & calibration services.
By now you understand that gas monitors are essential for ensuring workers' safety in industrial environments. And, you've got options regarding the types of monitors you use. However, it is crucial to conduct regular maintenance and calibration, including bump testing.
Purchasing gas monitors may not make sense for your needs depending on your budget and application. In those cases, you can rent gas monitors for short-term or temporary use.
Safety Services, Inc. offers an entire fleet of rental monitors for short-term and temporary needs. This can be a cost-effective option if you only need to use the monitors occasionally or for quick projects.
For details on our single-gas and 4-gas monitor rental options, call us at 800-632-2955 or email customer care now. Let us know what you need, and we can arrange for the delivery and pickup of the monitors. We can also offer training and support to ensure that the monitors are used safely and correctly.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to provide general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is based on current information at the time of publication but may not be complete or up to date. You should not use this article as a substitute for reviewing current government regulations, industry standards, or other standards that apply to your business. You should refer to the relevant standards or speak with a lawyer if you have specific questions.