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Gas detection: unlocking compliance insights the smart way

Published: 5 December 2019 - Victoria White

Portable gas detection equipment needs to work faultlessly and in conjunction with safety best practice. Lives depend on it. But, faced with many daily demands on a safety manager’s time, maintaining compliance across a fleet of equipment is a constant challenge. Matt DeLorenzo, Business Director for Safety io (an MSA Safety Company subsidiary), explains how the Grid Fleet Manager – software service for managing fleets of portable gas detectors – helps to ensure compliance through a proactive safety approach.

If there’s one pressure that unites every safety manager in the industry, it’s battling to keep multiple plates spinning – trying to maintain rigorous safety monitoring and enforce robust Standard Operating Procedures against a backdrop of interruptions throughout the day. One of the most important areas constantly vying for attention is the need to manage complex fleets of portable gas detectors. There is the need to monitor maintenance, calibration and testing for every detector, ensuring it is completely and accurately compliant.

Managing gas detection safety program is critical but not an easy task

The administrative and management burden to ensure gas detector fleets are available, functioning correctly, ready for use and compliant cannot be underestimated. There are several obstacles to overcome. Organisations may well be using detectors in multiple locations, across multiple sites, and potentially in different countries. The fleet portfolio may be diverse, spanning both single and multi-gas detection capabilities. Devices will inevitably be acquired or replaced. All of which means that manually tracking inventory and usage and keeping maintenance accurate is a difficult task.

Single point of truth

For this reason, Safety io developed the Grid Fleet Manager system to provide a single point of truth. By gathering and compiling data automatically, as devices are returned and docked after use and bump tested or calibrated before use, it simplifies the management of the fleet of portable gas detection. Fleet Manager focuses on prioritising the most important information, prominently highlighting when and where urgent action is required.

Each morning, the system sends an organisation’s safety managers (and equipment maintenance partners if needed) a concise e-mail summarising the status of the fleet at every operational location. If there are any concerns, e-mail links take users directly to view their Grid account. An intuitive fleet dashboard shows top-level, prioritised metrics and alerts, each of which can be expanded at a click to reveal granular-level detail on any device or event.

Prioritised, proactive management

A common logistical challenge faced by safety managers is making sure that there is sufficient calibration gas available to both test devices and calibrate them accurately. To ensure correct sensor and alarm operation, best safety practice calls for every gas detector to be bump tested daily before use, and also calibrated monthly. If gas is unavailable, operatives cannot bump test equipment or carry out calibration, meaning that they are unable to work. To do so would breach safety compliance legislation as devices could potentially fail to work, exposing workers to non-identifiable gas leaks.  Such downtime and risk is both costly and avoidable. In response, Fleet Manager alerts safety managers when gas stocks are becoming depleted, allowing partners to proactively re-supply gas as needed before supplies expire.

Over time, sensors in gas detection devices can degrade. Fleet Manager provides alerts on sensors that require attention so that the equipment at risk can either be maintained or replaced before it fails.

In addition to providing safety managers with control over their fleet, they’re also able to see – for all device serial numbers in the fleet – when, where and by whom the device was last used, when it was last tested or checked, and whether any further tests are needed.

Large fleets, complex data

Portable gas detection equipment has come a long way in recent years. As well as providing vital early warnings about leaks, today’s advanced, portable gas detectors also gather and store invaluable data – recording critical information both about incidents and also the working practices of operatives. This information, held locally on each device, can be downloaded when the device is docked and – ideally – properly analysed for insights.
By constantly pulling and storing data from all devices, Fleet Manager provides valuable insights to safety managers on non-safe behaviours.

Highlighting dangerous practices

The system is also a key driver behind helping to achieve compliant operational practices. Whenever a gas detector issues an alarm, operatives must follow strict Standard Operating Procedures. They must acknowledge the alarm in the instrument and vacate the area. Unfortunately, real-world experience does not always reflect best practice. Some operatives may choose to ignore the alarm or even turn the device off. But with Fleet Manager, these occurrences are recorded and highlighted, allowing safety managers to identify those posing a risk, and swiftly move to re-educate or retrain them.

When it comes to streamlining device maintenance and compliance, the technology behind Fleet Manager is liberating. Safety io Grid Fleet Manager allows for a proactive approach to gas detection safety programmes, allowing customers the ability to minimise distractions and put their time toward higher safety priorities, becoming more efficient and better informed in the process.

Source: Industrial Compliance

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