Personal monitoring is a term given that covers the area of industrial health monitoring associated with the exposure of employees to hazardous conditions of gases, dust, noise etc. In other words, the aim is to ensure that levels of hazardous contaminants in the workplace are below the statutory limits.
Personal detectors should warn the wearer of gas-related risks in their immediate work area.
Instruments are worn by a worker and sampling is carried out as near to the breathing zone as possible. This ensures that the measured level of contamination is truly representative of that inhaled by the worker. Instruments are usually worn directly on the work clothing (hard hat, harness or jacket/overalls) within 25cm of the breathing zone.
The basic requirements for these types of detectors are comfort, robustness, battery life, alarms and reliability.
It should be emphasised that both personal monitoring and monitoring of the workplace should be considered as important parts of an overall, integrated safety plan. They are only intended to provide the necessary information about conditions as they exist in the atmosphere. This then allows the necessary action to be taken to comply with the relevant industrial regulations and safety requirements.
Whatever method is decided upon, it is important to take into account the nature of the toxicity of any of the gases involved. For instance, any instrument which measures only a time-weighted average, or an instrument which draws a sample for subsequent laboratory analysis, would not protect a worker against a short exposure to a lethal dose of a highly toxic substance. On the other hand, it may be quite normal to briefly exceed the average, long-term (LTEL) levels in some areas of a plant, and it need not be indicated as an alarm situation.
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