It’s more cost-effective, sustainable and simple than you think
By Blackline Safety
If you’re a safety or operations manager, you already know the value of a robust safety culture. Whether you work in oil and gas, petrochemicals, renewable energy, utilities or other industries with a wide spectrum of safety needs, knowing how connected safety can amplify your HSE program – no matter how basic the application – is key to moving beyond compliance.
Take single-gas detection as an example. You may think traditional beep-and-flash disposable gas detectors are meeting your needs – but are you looking at the bigger picture? Connected safety solutions provide vital data that not only streamline your incident response process, but also enables you to take proactive actions to prevent them – all while improving compliance and operational efficiency.
But what about the added costs? There are many variables to consider when looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your safety program. Reducing lost devices and false alarms is just the beginning of how connected safety solutions cut costs and provide long-term value for companies using single-gas detectors.
The current state of single-gas detection
Traditional single-gas detection solutions are hardware-driven. Specifically, personal gas monitor alarms only notify the device wearer that they have encountered a hazardous atmosphere. Safety managers also need to conduct manual assessments across a worksite to identify problem areas, inspect infrastructure and gather testimony from employees. However, this approach can result in oversights and errors – leaving gaps in gas detection risks and workplace safety.
For example, by only relying on sensors and human testimony, you may miss a developing pattern of hazardous gas readings. Some gas detection systems collect data that is inaccessible until the device is docked – with no real-time visibility of atmospheric conditions or worker safety.
What is connected safety?
In a nutshell, connected safety solutions combine gas detection device readings with location technology, cloud-based software, data analytics, and reporting to show real-time gas exposure levels, and worker location and condition.
This gives safety and operations managers full visibility through an online dashboard – accessible anywhere, anytime – without needing to wait until a device is docked to receive the data. Data analytics can then identify areas of potential hazards based on repeated alarms (e.g., fall detection) or below alarm level gas exposures, so corrective action such as maintenance can be taken before an incident occurs.
Connected devices also serve as a communication lifeline for workers should they need immediate assistance – which is especially critical for remote or lone workers.
Why connected safety for single-gas detection?
In essence, connected safety keeps you from having to do the manual guesswork of determining gas presence based on testimony or data from docked single-gas detectors that only tell part of the story.
By using cloud-enabled safety devices and analytics reports, you can work to mitigate and even eliminate safety risks by:
- Accessing real-time information to quickly respond to incidents
- Creating preventative safety protocols and processes based on analysis of accurate data
- Proactively managing worker and device compliance and reporting
Streamline Incident Response
Connected safety devices provide accurate location information of your workers and contractors on your dashboard – in real-time. This enables you to quickly respond to individual incidents or enact emergency response and evacuation procedures. With emergency SOS notification, a worker can immediately let you know if they are in distress.
Enable Proactive Safety
Connected safety lets you leverage insights from vital information and trustworthy data to reduce incidents by creating more effective and preventative safety protocols and processes. Having full visibility of your workers lets you scale your safety program across worksites and facilities. You can also identify areas where additional worker training should be implemented or focused on.
Connected safety delivers a single source of data to tell which devices in the field are compliant – or not. With simple bump and calibration, the accountability for device maintenance can be put on workers to ensure they keep the device up to your company’s set schedule and standards. With a dashboard that shows you the compliance status of your full device fleet, you can focus on those that are out of compliance.
What factors contribute to connected safety TCO?
Many companies aren’t formally tracking the TCO of their single-gas detectors. For companies that are, many don’t look beyond the price of the devices, consumables and maintenance. Whether buying, leasing or renting, single-gas detectors are most frequently acquired on an as-need basis as an operating expense – making it less likely for companies to pay attention to overall TCO.
Beyond the most obvious benefit of reducing costly safety incidents, factors to consider when evaluating the overall TCO of connected safety solutions include benefits that increase operational efficiency and reduce associated costs.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calculates that a recordable incident related to respiratory disorders (e.g., gases, fumes, chemicals) has a direct cost of $41,000, in addition to $45,000 indirect costs for a total of $86,000.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the cost per medically consulted injury at $44,000, with a $1,310,000 cost per death. These figures include estimates of wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employer costs, but exclude property damage costs except to motor vehicles.
A few areas are worth breaking out.
Reduce False Alarms
Traditional disposable single-gas detectors can be prone to false alarms making workers doubt their accuracy. This can lead to workers ignoring them so they can just get the job done. Connected safety solutions provide accurate, real-time gas detection that provides continuous visibility to safety and operations managers.
Reduce Lost Devices
On average, 20% of single-gas devices are lost or unaccounted for resulting in replacement costs and operational churn. Connected gas detectors with GPS location tracking drastically reduces the number of lost devices by allowing workers to find them whether it was left behind or fell off.
Reduce IT Resources
Setting up and maintaining IT infrastructure takes resources and time, translating into indirect costs that affect TCO of the safety program. Connected safety is direct-to-cloud, and is connected right out of the box, including over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Disposable single-gas detectors are slated to last 18-24 months before they need to be replaced. This comes with replacement costs, but also the need for additional inventory to ensure workers can continue the task at hand. Connected safety solutions have an extended lifespan – lasting at least more than twice that of disposables – and have a rechargeable battery that can last a full year on a single charge.
How does connected safety contribute to sustainability goals?
Much like the difference between using disposable, single-use coffee pods versus buying coffee beans and using a French press, connected safety solutions are of better quality and an inherently more sustainable option with a reduced environmental impact compared to disposable detectors.
While some companies return single-gas detectors to the vendor or manufacturer for fee-based recycling or have in-house departments refurbish them using salvaged parts, both options aren’t ideal. Like TCO, using devices with longer lifespans, being able to locate them if lost to reduce waste, and working with a manufacturer committed to responsible recycling and disposal will support your organization’s commitment to sustainability.
While sustainability may not be within your purview, those responsible for leading ESG initiatives at your company will been keen to know how shifting to a connected safety solution will contribute to their Health, Safety, Security, Environment (HSSE) and Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) goals.
You may feel that a connected gas detection solution is out of reach, but the benefits to not only your safety program, but your bottom line is clear. Trying new technology doesn’t need to be stressful – the key is to understand the capabilities to look for and to find the right partner.
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