Industrial Hygiene Instrumentation: What's Coming Down the Road? Instruments Are Becoming Smaller, Easier to Use and More Versatile, and Further Innovations Are Ahead

By Minter, Stephen G. | Occupational Hazards, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Industrial Hygiene Instrumentation: What's Coming Down the Road? Instruments Are Becoming Smaller, Easier to Use and More Versatile, and Further Innovations Are Ahead


Minter, Stephen G., Occupational Hazards


Despite operating in a much smaller market than their consumer electronic counterparts, manufacturers of gas and vapor detection equipment have pursued many of the same goals--to make products that are smaller, lighter, easier to use and that offer more functionality. And, again like this broader market, they are selling more sophisticated products for less money.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Price competition between manufacturers has really led to a bargain for end-user customers," observes Bob Henderson, secretary of the American Industrial Hygiene Association's Gas & Vapor Detection Systems Committee. "Ten years ago, the average price of a confined space detector was on the high side of $2,000. Today, the list price of the most commonly sold brands is around $600-800 and there are a few even less expensive than that."

That money also buys you "less," but only less in the sense of size and weight. Instrument manufacturers have responded to users' desires to have more compact, lighter instruments. "In comparison to 5 years ago, units are at least half the size and half the weight, if not more," said Dan Hirsh, the gas detection business unit manager with Draeger Safety, Pittsburgh. He said advances in electronics, as well as newer battery technologies, have helped shrink instruments.

While the ubiquitous four-gas monitor dominates the portable instrument market, manufacturers are offering an increasing array of even more versatile instruments, such as four-gas plus photoionization detector (PID) units. "Whereas in the past you might buy an instrument for one specified duty, for instance confined space entry, today, given the increased flexibility of the instruments, they will be used for a variety of applications," said Henderson, vice president of product development for BW Technologies Ltd., Calgary. This trend is driven by a continuing concern for measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs), he explained, as well as a desire to have instruments that can be used in emergency response situations.

More flexible instruments also come in response to the demands of workplaces where a larger number of employees may be performing some monitoring function and training time is precious. Draeger's Hirsh said switch-able sensors allow workers to perform a variety of jobs with one instrument. And for the safety manager who has to train multiple workers, one instrument offers an important advantage. "If one employee needs an [H.sub.2]S monitor, another needs a combustible gas monitor and a third needs an [O.sub.2] monitor, instead of buying three single-gas units, I can buy one instrument and train all three employees the same way," he said. "If they switch jobs, they are using the same piece of equipment, so it makes my job as safety manager a lot easier."

Monitoring for the Masses

If gas and vapor monitors were once esoteric devices that existed largely in the realm of specialists such as industrial hygienists, changes in the workplace have put instruments in the hands of many more workers. Falling sensor prices and concerns about liability have combined to make monitors for the masses a reality. For example, said Hirsh, at a large chemical plant or refinery, hundreds of workers may be equipped with monitors. "If I have to arm 300 people with gas monitors, I am going to get something that is cheap and simple," he noted.

Likening the situation to buying a car, Hirsh said employees in today's lean manufacturing environments are no more likely to read through a manual in order to use an instrument than they are to read their automobile's operating manual. Because many monitors have fairly similar operating controls and those controls are greatly simplified, employees can pick them up and begin using them in short order. And manufacturers have responded by also making training material available in more accessible formats such as computer-based training and Power-Point presentations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Industrial Hygiene Instrumentation: What's Coming Down the Road? Instruments Are Becoming Smaller, Easier to Use and More Versatile, and Further Innovations Are Ahead
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.