Gas Monitoring - September 20th, 2013

Greetings from Gemini Energy Services! Here is the latest issue of our Bi-Weekly Safety Newsletter, and thank you for taking the time to check it out.

The wind industry is filled with hazards and the purpose of this newsletter is to share useful information, refresher training and safe work practices to our subscribers so that we can raise the bar for safety throughout the industry.  This week's topic focuses on Gas Monitoring.

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Best regards,
The Gemini Team

Gas Monitoring

 
A portable multi-g
as detector is the instrument of choice for wind tower technicians because it can warn of the multiple threats posed by confined space entry, detecting toxic gases in parts per million levels and flammable gases at the lower explosive limit (LEL). A standard four-gas detector will include sensors for monitoring oxygen, combustible gases, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide. These four gases deserve special mention in confined space work.

Hydrogen sulfide, also called sewer gas, is heavier than air and can accumulate in electrical vaults, basements, and other areas underneath the tower. The characteristic "rotten egg" odor can be detected by smell at lower levels and for short duration; at higher levels, the gas can cause dizziness leading to unconsciousness. Methane, the primary component of natural gases, is a combustible gas found often in confined spaces. Produced by leaks in pipelines, methane, along with propane and other flammable gases, must be monitored with a combustible gas sensor that gives an alert at the lower explosive limit. A standard four-gas portable monitor is equipped with a flammable gas sensor. Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon compounds, can be found where any gas-powered equipment is used. Oxygen levels must be determined prior to entry of a confined space. Oxygen can be consumed by oxidation from rusting equipment, bacteria growth, displacement by another gas, or rotting vegetation. Oxygen sensors are included in a standard four-gas monitor. Thankfully, these gas threats can be averted by following due diligence in regard to OSHA and NIOSH confined space requirements and by gaining a working knowledge of a confined space portable gas detector.

 

Many portable gas detectors are designed for simple ease of use. Premium models may offer additional details, including large, backlit displays and oversized, heavy-duty buttons. These features help the user operate and view gas readings in foggy, dark, or wet conditions. Check to see whether the unit logs standard data, as well as event and calibration data that can be loaded onto a computer program in case the data must be retrieved. If any of your crew has a limited understanding of English, check whether the portable unit offers multilingual display or voice-assisted operation.

 

The unit should convey alarm annunciation in multi-sensory ways, audibly (through a distinctive loud sound), visually (through strobe), and tactilely (through vibration). In this way, workers will be alerted to emergency alarms, quickly and without fail.

 

Training in the use of a portable gas detector should include the following:

  • Always test the atmosphere before entering a confined space.
  • Always test for oxygen levels.
  • Perform a bump (functional) test and learn how to calibrate your instrument properly or obtain professional assistance on how to do so.
  • Perform continuous testing for flammable and toxic gases upon entering the space (having completed pre-entry checks).
  • Make certain all of your crew's portable gas detectors are in good working order.
  • Use fully serviceable equipment.
  • Consider time- and money-saving premium features.  

The wind energy industry is the fastest-growing segment of renewable energy production. In the next few years, hundreds of technicians will enter the field. And as the nation's wind towers age, repairs will inevitably increase, with more frequent confined space entries. The time for practicing due diligence in confined space work is now. With a little preparation, you can maximize the short- and long-term value of your company's investment in portable gas detection instrumentation. You can track evidence of safety and compliance; protect people, equipment, and environment; and increase company profitability. Learning how to use a portable gas detector takes you one step forward on the way to a long, rewarding career in this dynamic industry.

Gemini Energy Services is the premier independent service provider to the wind industry.  Safety is not just a philosophy at Gemini; it's our defining characteristic.  Whether Gemini technicians are driving to the project site or working on energized equipment in the hub, we strive for zero injuries.  Our proactive safety initiatives, which incorporate safety indoctrination, tailgate safety meetings, ongoing Personal Qualification Standards (PQS), a safety incentive program and completion of thorough Job Site Assessments, have resulted in an unblemished safety record.  We are confident that our colleagues in the wind industry share our commitment to safety and a zero-injury workplace.  

 

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