Why It’s So Important to Monitor Gas Levels When Working in Confined Spaces

As oil and gas companies seek to provide excellent service, they also encounter the challenge of working safely with hazardous chemicals. Certain gases, like hydrogen sulphide, occur naturally in extraction but still present a risk in the field.

When working in an enclosed environment, workers are exposed to two hazards: gas exposure and confined spaces. Working in tight spaces with gaseous products significantly increases the risk of exposure to certain gases, like hydrogen sulphide. To protect against this, always monitor gas levels and use appropriate equipment.

Here in this guide, we’ll cover why it’s important to monitor gas levels and safe ways of doing so when working in confined spaces.

Gas Detection

An employee’s health and wellbeing should always be considered when entering a workspace. If working on a do-it-yourself home project, consult with experts before being exposed to dangerous gases. Gas Detection should take place before even entering an area. This includes silos, tanks, and other places that are hard to enter and exit.

Continuous Monitoring

Once the space has been cleared for entry, the work doesn’t stop. As the project continues, the gas levels need to be monitored. This is because continued work could open up an opportunity for more gas to be produced.

If the levels rise while hard at work, employees might not notice until it is too late, and poisoning has occurred. Working in confined spaces creates a more concentrated area for the gas to flow. At the same time, this means the gas has nowhere else to go as you breathe it in.

Notice the Symptoms

Monitoring gas levels also includes monitoring your body. If employees are entering a confined space that might be hard to exit, they have to know the signs of chemical exposure. This can potentially help them identify the risk before it is too late and have enough time to vacate the area.

Encountering certain gases, like hydrogen sulphide, can cause symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing when exposed to a low concentration.

Noticing symptoms isn’t always enough though. While some gases, like hydrogen sulphide, has a distinct odour, others do not. Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer due to its odourless and colourless state. The failsafe way to monitor these not-readily apparent substances is to use a gas detector and continuously monitor the levels. This avenue is much more reliable and accurate as well.

Communication Is Key

As people enter a confined space with the potential for gas exposure, teamwork and communication are essential. Never enter a confined space without first notifying and stationing someone nearby. This person can communicate with individuals in the space to ensure individuals are conscious and aware of their surroundings.

This also includes having someone to monitor and make the call of when gas levels are too dangerous.

Respiratory Usage

In the event that monitoring doesn’t work and dangerous exposure does take place, always have respirators on hand. This can be critical in helping to prevent further inhalation of gases and circumventing negative health effects.

Using respiratory devices is also an option for entering the space from the beginning. This is a great choice if monitoring the gas levels is not an option – although it always should be an option.

Play It Safe

If you are questioning whether a confined space presents a risk for dangerous gas exposure, chances are you should quit while you are ahead. Always play it safe if you aren’t able to monitor gas levels while working in these spaces.
If in doubt, always consider calling in the experts like our team here at Australian Dynamic Technologies. With over 45 years of experience, we can help make sure your work is being conducted in a safe, appropriate manner for all involved. There’s also a lot to learn about how to monitor gas – and we can help with that.



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