Gas Detection in the Breathing Zone

Workers are exposed to breathing hazards in a wide variety of environments. These include oil & gas, water treatment plants, metals refining & processing, and chemical plants among many others.

One of the enduring problems related to the use of gas detectors has been the placement of the gas detector. Most often they are worn on the waist area, owing chiefly to the size and weight of the unit. Safety professionals know that there can be a great difference in gas concentrations between the waist and the nose/mouth area of the workers face.

While concentrating on your job, it is only natural to get up close when observing whatever process it is that is in front of you. This has the effect of putting vulnerable areas in close proximity to the problem. As a general rule, OSHA defines the ‘breathing zone’ as being within a radius of 10 inches of the nose and mouth. This is a pretty compact area.

Most modern gas detectors are lightweight, compact and portable. To a degree that was not possible even 10 years ago. However, wearing even a relatively small device on what is basically your collarbone, can be uncomfortable.

Many workers that because of their job are wearing fall protection harnesses actually have this a bit easier. The webbing on the harness offers a prime place to clip your detector. Similarly, the high visibility safety vest might offer a good spot for attachment. However, only a relatively robust surveyors style vest will hold the typical gas detector without sagging.

As the safety professional, looking for the right gas detector for your workers, comparing the size and weight should be a very close second to the performance and warranty offered by the manufacturer.

After all, the best gas detector is the one that they will wear… in the Breathing Zone.