Safety should never be treated as a commodity. However, it’s a hard notion to avoid in a world in which commoditization runs rampant. Today, products can move from concept to creation so rapidly that even if it’s the first of its kind, it won’t be for long, as competitors quickly come to market with similar goods in a matter of days, if not weeks.

The risk of commoditization is not specific to consumer goods manufacturers. It is also a very real challenge for safety product manufacturers in the oil and gas industry. Increasingly, safety solutions are less separated in terms of quality and performance than ever before. Consequently they run the risk of being treated as commodities as products flood the market and the only perceived differentiator is price. But, can you really put a price on safety?

Eliminating a “one size fits all” mindset

As each frontline worker is unique, so too is the working environment in which he or she operates, which is why oil and gas companies should never consider a commoditized product for their worksite. While organizations may be tempted to veer in the direction of a more cost-effective safety solution, companies should always cost out whether the upfront savings outweighs the benefits of a detector that may require a greater investment, but will provide superior safety. For companies that place a premium on safety and want to fully safeguard their workers, they should seek out multi-gas detectors with the following features:

Greater documentation: As a way not only to stand out among the competition, but more importantly protect a company’s most valuable assets — its workers — select manufacturers are beginning to incorporate documentation capabilities into their safety solutions. The robust set of analytics these solutions generate allows companies to more effectively track worker compliance and mitigate both onsite safety and financial risks. Through using gas detectors capable of recording various safety practices, such as bump tests and calibration checks, companies can not only correct non-compliant conduct, but they can adjust onsite safety measures to more closely align with worker behavior. Furthermore, with today’s innovative docking technologies, documentation has never been easier for companies. Through utilization of these intuitive docking systems, along with the multi-gas detectors, companies can rest easy knowing their onsite instrumentation is ready to go on a moment’s notice and will contribute to greater worker safety.

Enhanced accuracy: Over the last decade, manufacturers have seen great leaps in technological advancements in sensor technology that have resulted in being able to reduce sensor response time (or increase sensor speed). This key differentiator has become an essential factor for selecting instrumentation that can strengthen worker safety. The difference between five and ten seconds can mean everything when workers are faced with a life-threatening situation. Consider the following example showcasing the difference between a sensor with a t-90 time (the time it takes for a sensor to read 90 percent of the test gas concentration) of 15 seconds versus a sensor with a t-90 time of 25 to 40 seconds, using hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as the test gas:

Simultaneous introduction of H2S gas will not cause either monitor to react immediately, however, after a few seconds, the instrument with a t-90 time of 15 seconds will begin to register a gas amount. Even after 15 seconds, while the device with the t-90 time of 15 seconds continues to climb until reaching a reading of 10 ppm (parts per million), the other device with the longer t-90 time will have yet to register a reading. Workers wearing this second device will start to suffer from a decreased level of muscle activity and oxygen in the blood. This same worker will experience this for 10 seconds without the alarm sounding to warn of the dangerous H2S level.

After a minute and 35 seconds, the device with the 15 second t-90 time will measure 15 ppm going into an A2 alarm and alerting the worker to the dangerous conditions. However, it will take an additional 42 seconds for the t-90 time of 25 seconds device to reach a full A2 alarm and notify its wearer of the presence of 15 ppm of H2S, all while the worker experiences potential eye irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, throat and eye irritation, and coughing and breathing difficulty.

Ultimately, price should never be the deciding factor when it comes to selecting safety devices for your worksite. Through making a greater investment in safety at the onset, companies are positioning themselves and their workers for a more promising and protected future.