On industrial jobsites, many hazards are visible, such as rough terrain or heavy equipment. When you see these materials, you can swiftly identify them as dangerous and follow the proper protocols for eliminating the hazards or working around them safely. Unfortunately, some industrial hazards aren’t as visible to the naked eye. For instance, toxic gases and vapors can fill a confined space without being noticeable through sight or smell.
For this very reason, photoionization detectors (PIDs) are readily available on the market. With these tools, employers can help their teams identify a wide range of invisible threats. However, if you’re unfamiliar with this kind of threat to industrial safety, learn what to know about PID gas detectors by reading the helpful, comprehensive guide below.
What Is Photoionization?
Photoionization involves the formation of ions as the result of an atom or molecule absorbing electromagnetic radiation. In other words, this process involves a photon ionizing an atom or molecule, hence the moniker “photoionization.” The detector emits photons for the radiation in the air to interact with, resulting in the aforementioned ionization. This device allows you to monitor for the presence of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and details the concentration of such materials.
Suffice it to say, the concentration of any given VOC is a crucial calculation. By understanding the VOC concentration levels in a confined space, employees can adequately prepare themselves for the next steps, whether that involves working with PPE or finding a way to remove the harmful materials entirely.
Both scenarios are common, so be sure you’re taking the right approach for your specific needs. Although that might sound obvious, it’s easy to lose sight of key details when analyzing all the various hazards in the workspace. However, by supplying employees with the right gear and providing adequate training, they can maneuver confined spaces productively and, most importantly, safely.
So with that out of the way, what’s the point of detecting photoionization? Through this method of air monitoring, individuals can detect the presence of hydrocarbons and VOCs in confined spaces. VOCs originate from materials that have a high vapor pressure and a low boiling point. Such materials include adhesives, aerosol sprays, air fresheners, building materials, cleaning solutions, correction fluid, furniture, paints, paint removers, and pesticides.
These aren’t rare materials on jobsites, so ensuring you have the tools for detecting hazardous materials is crucial for employee safety. Thankfully, PIDs are ideal tools that help you monitor for gas leaks and hazardous material situations in industrial work environments. PIDs contain ultraviolet (UV) lamps that emit photons for nearby particles to interact with. By emitting a light beam throughout the entire workspace, the device can catch nearby particles and initiate ionization.
Why You Need PIDs
At the end of the day, employee safety is the most important thing to consider on any jobsite. Whether an employee works at a supermarket or a construction site, their employers must do everything they can to provide a safe work environment. Thankfully, PIDs help employees detect hazardous materials in the air, ensuring they can determine the right course of action to take next. Of course, it’s integral to discuss the specific health risks involved with toxic gases in confined spaces and other susceptible areas.
VOC Exposure Symptoms
Long-term VOC exposure can result in various health issues, some of which are seemingly minor, while others are incredibly dire. For instance, VOC exposure can cause dizziness, fatigue, or irritation in the throat, nose, and eyes. Furthermore, exposure can result in asthma symptoms, cancer, or severe damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. These ailments can plague employees who don’t take the proper steps when entering industrial work areas containing toxic gases. An important fact to remember is that high levels of VOC are harmful, but even low levels of VOC can cause severe damage in confined spaces.
Plus, gas detection tools are necessary for abiding by Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) guidelines for working in confined areas. If your industrial workspace involves conducting tasks in confined spaces, take the time to read through OSHA’s standards for doing so safely and responsibly.
Proper Training and Handling
Even after obtaining enough PIDs for the workplace, employers must train employees to use them for daily operations correctly. PIDs are vital safety tools, but if an employee doesn’t know how to use their PID properly, they can wind up making dangerous miscalculations in hazardous environments. Provide detailed training courses for new hires, and hold refresher courses ready for any worker who wants or needs to sharpen their understanding of the subject.
The more thorough the training, the more familiar employees can become with PIDs and all their nuances. Plus, beyond basic functions, employees should understand how to handle these devices responsibly. Recklessly handling PIDs by dropping them, tossing them on a table, or ignoring key maintenance will result in the device’s performance diminishing over time. Thankfully, in the right hands, PIDs won’t wind up in such reckless situations.
Closing Comments: PID Importance
As you can see, when it comes to industrial safety, what to know about PID gas detectors isn’t a short subject. That said, taking the time to truly understand this information and use it in the field is invaluable to jobsite safety. Employees and employers must work together to keep everyone safe. Thankfully, with the right leadership and employee training, everyone can work together to identify dangerous materials and act accordingly.
Understandably, that might sound like a cheesy line that bosses use on new hires, but it’s the truth. Teamwork and organization are necessary to industrial work environments. Sensing dangerous chemicals in the air is only one form of jobsite safety, but it’s integral nonetheless.
For this reason, at TG Technical Services, we offer an eclectic selection of photoionization sensors and many more gas detectors for industrial work environments. Now that you know the most important factors regarding PID devices, you can find the perfect one for your workplace, keeping your employees out of harm’s way in the process.