Gas detector manufacturers today are trying to provide end users with functionality that goes beyond gas detection. Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most frequent types of workplace accidents. Due to that fact, several instruments on the market now offer man-down alarms or panic alarm functionality. If a worker becomes disabled and is in need of help, he can trigger the panic alert on his monitor, which will activate the audible and visual alarms on his gas detector and signal someone working nearby that he is in need of help. If the worker is incapacitated, the man-down functionality automatically triggers the audible and visual alarms on his monitor to summon help in the same way. Panic and man-down alarms are especially helpful when coupled with peer-to-peer wireless communication between gas monitors. If a worker passes out, the other members in his wireless group will receive the man-down notification increasing the likelihood that the worker will receive help in time.
There is some variability, however, in how useful and reliable man-down alarms are depending on the type of technology used. Many gas monitors use accelerometers to activate the man-down functionality. Some use the accelerometer to measure the shock level on the device. Others use the accelerometer to measure motion, or lack of motion in a man-down situation. When the accelerometer is used to measure shock, false or nuisance man-down alarms will likely happen if the monitor is dropped or bumped on infrastructure or other equipment during use. If the worker becomes incapacitated without significant impact, a man-down alarm may not be activated at all. Instrument users should ensure that the man-down functionality of the instrument they choose is determined by lack of motion and not impact. Often, the time interval can be set on man-down alarms dictated by motion to make them wait shorter or longer periods of time before going into full alarm.
Instrument users should also remember that the primary functionality of the gas detector, the ability to detect gas when a hazard is present, is of the utmost importance. The only way to ensure that the monitor does in fact detect gas is to test it with gas regularly. Added features like panic or man-down alarms provide great functionality, but if the gas detector does not respond to a gas hazard and alert the user reliably, the gas monitor has failed to do what is was intended to do and is ultimately of little value to the user.
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