When you think about wireless connectivity, the first thing that comes to mind is the phone in your pocket or your laptop hooked up to an internet hotspot. This technology has been around since the turn of the century, but why aren’t we seeing it used on the job site? Wireless connectivity is sure to make your job site safer—especially when used around confined spaces.
Confined spaces are areas that are large enough for an employee to enter fully, have limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and are not design for continuous employee occupancy. Using gas monitors with wireless connectivity for confined space entries could save lives. On average, two people die each week from a confined space death. Of all confined space deaths, 60% are would-be rescuers who die while trying to save a peer. There are many reasons that confined spaces are the most dangerous part of a job site, but chief among them are atmospheric hazards. You may face common atmospheric hazards, such as oxygen deficiency or combustible or toxic gases. All of these factors combined create an unwelcoming work environment, yet one thing remains constant: wireless connectivity can keep you safe in these hazardous areas.
Confined spaces differ from one site to the next. It’s important to remember that some connectivity may be better than others depending on the depth or location of the confined space you are working in.
So, what are your options when it comes to connectivity? Wireless connectivity in gas monitors allows you to relay critical information from within the confined space to workers outside. The connectivity method you choose determines who receives the gas readings and alerts, so it’s important to understand the differences between the methods. At the same time, you need to consider the characteristics of your confined space to find the most reliable connectivity method for you.
Peer-to-Peer Connectivity: Gas monitors using peer-to-peer connectivity can talk to each other in a local area and share alarms. You can view gas readings as well as see panic and man-down alarms for your peers working nearby. Having this peer-to-peer connectivity is beneficial for people working in teams to verify other alarms and make sure peers are not in distress. If a peer’s monitor goes into alarm, you can see whether the alarms are being caused by a gas hazard or another emergency, so you know the dangers before starting a rescue. This technology is critical for confined spaces because it significantly reduces the risk of “would-be rescuer” fatalities.
Cellular Connectivity: Gas detectors with cellular connectivity is a significant advancement for confined space monitoring, especially for mobile workers. When you need to enter a confined space off-site or in a remote corner of a facility, a cellular connection makes it easy to share gas readings and location data to the cloud and iNet® Now live monitoring software. This gives supervisors the ability to know when workers need help, thanks to live monitoring alerts. Being able to safely dispatch rescue personnel and communicate gas levels is crucial to a safe rescue without putting more workers in danger.
While cellular connectivity makes it easy to use live monitoring software without adding site infrastructure, you first need to check that your confined space has cellular coverage. Extremely remote settings or confined spaces deep underground may not have an adequate signal.
Wi-fi Connectivity: When you’re working in a confined space, it’s key to stay in touch with the outside world. Similar to cellular connectivity, gas detectors with wi-fi connectivity can drastically improve safety by connecting you with others in case of danger. The advantage of using wi-fi on your site is that you have greater control over connectivity coverage. In hard-to-cover areas, you can add wi-fi access points to ensure consistent connectivity across your site. This allows gas monitors to stay connected to cloud-based live monitoring software and reliably transmit gas readings and alarms, so that safety personnel have visibility into what hazards you’re facing and can intervene in an emergency.
If you are using a connected gas monitor in a confined space, you are being monitored by more than just your hole watch. The Ventis® Pro5 Multi-Gas Monitor can keep you connected to live monitoring software. You have optional connectivity features such as a wi-fi battery, cellular battery, or dual cellular/satellite connectivity through the TGX™ Gateway. When you use cellular or wi-fi connectivity on top of peer-to-peer connectivity, your hole watch can see your real-time gas readings on their own monitor, and your data is transmitted to the cloud. Once the data is transmitted, supervisors can receive real-time safety alerts via text or on their laptop. Both options can be the difference between getting rescue personnel to the confined space with the required information and someone blindly going in and falling victim themselves.
No matter the wireless connectivity method you choose for your gas monitor, any kind of connection is a good one. Confined spaces present unique dangers that you must be prepared to handle. By maintaining wireless connectivity, you can rely on gas monitors to alert you to any dangers and provide additional visibility to safety managers and peers. This added layer of connectivity gives visibility into what gases you may encounter, which can lead to faster response times in an emergency. With a gas monitor that is transmitting data, you are a step ahead in keeping yourself and your co-workers safe in confined spaces.
To get expert advice on gas detection in confined spaces, talk to one of our experts.
Jamie Greene is a training specialist at Industrial Scientific.