Should You Regularly Schedule a Gas Monitor Calibration?

By IBT Inc

April 18, 2013

Safety

Portable and wall-mounted gas detection monitors are designed to measure toxic gases, flammable materials, and oxygen concentration in the air. They reduce worker exposure and ultimately save lives.

Confined spaces are the most common application for portable gas monitors. Proper use and calibration of the equipment can reduce worker injuries and fatalities in these narrow spaces.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there is an average of 92 fatal injuries per year in confined spaces, many of them due to toxic and asphyxiating atmospheres. Examples of confined spaces include:

  • Boilers
  • Fluid storage tanks
  • Ship compartments
  • Silos
  • Exhaust ducts
  • Underground vaults

“Bump Test” vs. Calibration

When do you need a “bump test,” and when do you need a full calibration?

A bump test is a quick test of the equipment to make sure it’s working before use. “A bump test tells you that the machine is working correctly and that the sensors are responding correctly,” said Bill Kimmel, IBT’s calibration specialist.

“The best way to do a bump test is to apply a bottle of gas to the instrument and take readings, to make sure it reads properly,” said Mike Davis, a Product Specialist at IBT who specializes in gas detection monitors. “Some people blow into the monitor to drop the oxygen levels. I have also observed others placing the instrument next to a vehicle exhaust pipe to register CO readings. However, these practices can easily poison the sensors.”

“If the gas monitor fails the bump test, then it definitely needs calibration before being used,” Kimmel added.

A full gas monitor calibration test is performed by applying a known concentration of calibration gas to the gas monitor. The readings on the monitor should match the values on the calibration gas bottle. If not, then the appropriate sensor should be replaced and calibrated before using the monitor again. This can be done by a professional calibrator, or by the manufacturer.

How Often?

A portable gas monitor should be bump-tested prior to every use. If the gas monitor fails the bump test, it can then be calibrated before it is used in the work space.

Most organizations perform a full calibration on their monitors every 90 days. The calibration should be performed according to your company procedures and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Gas Monitor Calibration Service Options

IBT offers three service options for gas monitor calibration, including:

  • Onsite calibration program—IBT team members visit your site, calibrate the equipment, and manage all paperwork; free loaner equipment included
  • In-house calibration program—return instrument to IBT for service; loaner instrument provided for cost of shipping
  • Training program—in-depth instrument training available for your facility

Schedule and all records are maintained by IBT in a customized database, for your convenience.

Scheduling a Gas Monitor Calibration

For calibration services, gas monitor equipment, or recommendations on which instrument would best serve your worksite, call Mike Davis at (913) 261-2149 or mdavis@ibtinc.com.

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