Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is the discipline and industry that studies and applies practical aspects of environmental protection and safety in the workplace. It is a series of standards and procedures created that organizations must follow to ensure that their activities do not harm any living organism or the environment. EHS is also the department within a company or an organization that is responsible for enforcing environmental protection, occupational health and safety, compliance, and best practices. The goal of EHS is to prevent and reduce accidents in the workplace and maintain quality health standards for employees.
Under the broad term of “environmental health and safety,” there are two different and separate categories, or perspectives. The health and safety perspective creates organized policies and procedures for identifying workplace hazards, as well as reducing accidents and exposure to harmful situations and substances. Other aspects of health and safety include accident prevention training, accident response, emergency preparedness, and using protective clothing and equipment. The environmental perspective of EHS focuses on coming up with organized ideas and solutions to comply with environmental regulations. These actions include waste and emissions management, reducing a company’s carbon footprint, and preventing or minimizing other environmental damage.
Another way to protect against environmental damage is through environmental monitoring, which consists of processes and activities used to characterize and monitor the quality of the environment. This type of testing and monitoring is conducted to identify and quantify pollution in the air, water, or soil to discover which human activities can have harmful effects on the natural environment. It can also be done to determine the performance of a piece of environmental equipment and ensure it will perform as expected once it is ready to work.
EH&S Test Equipment
Equipment used to conduct tests for environmental health and safety includes particle counters, leak detectors, thermal cameras, XRF analyzers, and sound level meters. Other types of equipment that are designed to enforce environmental health and safety standards and protect workers from workplace hazards includes radiation meters, personal RF monitors, gauss meters, and magnetometers.
Particle counters monitor the air quality in HVAC systems and facility air performance, and they check for general Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). They are also an important part of cleanrooms that perform semiconductor device fabrication. While checking the air quality of an environment, particle counters measure the amount and subsequent size of particles in the air, including nanoparticles. These results are used to determine and calculate the cleanliness level of the area being tested. Read more...
Several standards exist for particle counters, including facility certification for ISO and FS 209E cleanroom classification standards.
Watch the following video for an overview of the Fluke 985 particle counter:
Leak detectors detect and determine if and where a leak has occurred within a system that contains liquid or gas. This equipment enhances the reliability and safety of a system, device, or structure while also reducing the inspection time it would take to find a leak without using this equipment. Leak detectors are also able to detect gases like helium, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide. Read more...
Thermal cameras, which are also known as infrared cameras, are used for sensing temperatures and other thermal issues. Instead of using visible light like a traditional camera, infrared cameras operate by using infrared radiation. Thermal cameras can operate in wavelengths as long as 14,000 nm, and they can sense temperature without causing structural damage to a building. Consequently, they are considered a non-destructive testing method, which makes them ideal for environmental health and safety inspections.
Identifying lead and other hazardous substances is critical due to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which is also known as Directive 2002/95/EC. Although this regulation is commonly referred to as the “lead-free directive,” it actually restricts the use of ten substances in the environment. The banned substances are lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These restricted materials are hazardous to the environment and are dangerous upon exposure.
XRF analyzers assess materials for potential hazards and conduct non-destructive testing of a material’s elemental composition. XRF analyzers are ideal for a variety of applications, such as positive material identification (PMI), alloy identification and elemental analysis, lead paint testing, soil analysis, consumer goods testing, and many others. XRF analyzers are non-invasive and provide near instantaneous results, as well as quick ID, screening, sorting, and elemental and metal analysis. Read more...
Sound Level Meters
As another aspect of environmental health and safety, sound level meters measure the acoustic noises of a space. This type of equipment is frequently seen in noise pollution studies. Tests for sound level meters include environmental and occupational noise assessment, Class 1 sound measurements, and reverberation time measurements. Sound level meters are categorized by Classes 1 and 2, which refer to different types of tolerance for noise.
With 1 kHz as a reference frequency, a Class 1 sound level meter has tolerance limits of +/- 1.9dB. A Class 2 sound level meter with the same reference frequency has a tolerance limit of +/- 2.2dB. Sound standards exist because exposure to loud noises over a certain period of time can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s hearing. As a result, noises that reach harmful levels can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Read more...
Personal RF Monitors
Personal RF monitors analyze dangerous RF and radiation levels in the environment, as well as measure exposure and field strength and establish safe zones. RF field technicians are also protected by the FCC under the regulation 47 CFR 1.1310 regarding frequency, field strength, power density, and averaging time. Therefore, workers cannot be exposed to excessive radio frequency levels.
Similarly, the electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) around all electric devices may pose a health risk to electrical technicians who are exposed to EMF sources. Because many high magnetic fields exist around electrical systems that generate tons of electric power, it’s essential to practice safe working habits while working with EMF meters. Read more...
47 CFR 1.1310
Health Canada Safety Code 6
Gauss Meters and Magnetometers
Gauss meters, which are also known as Tesla meters, and magnetometers measure magnetism. These devices can either measure the magnetization of magnetic material or the strength and direction of a magnetic field at a point in space. Units of measurement are given either in gauss or tesla. Technicians who uses Gauss meters and magnetometers are protected by FCC regulations that specify how much magnetic frequency they can be safely exposed to. Read more...
FCC Maximum Permissible RF Exposure Regulations
Limits for Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) - from §1.1310
Table courtesy of RFCafe.com.
All these products and other equipment for environmental health and safety testing are available to rent from Advanced Test Equipment Rentals (ATEC).