Many organizations are now convinced of the . They realize that mobile apps facilitate a host of tasks, from instantly reporting incidents, near misses and observations, to conducting inspections and audits directly in the field. In addition, as more workers use mobile apps more often, more data becomes available to get better insights into potential hazards and risks.
Despite the growing use of , there are still some organizations that are not on the bandwagon yet. This can be simply the result of being slow to adopt new or emerging technologies, but there is one scenario where organizations are convinced of the benefits of EHS mobile apps, but they are not allowed to use them. However, there is good news for these organizations.
Mobile Devices and Risks of Explosions
No, the subtitle above is not an exaggeration, nor does it refer to exploding mobile devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. The use of smartphones and tablets is forbidden at some worksites in the oil & gas and chemical industries (e.g. petrochemical or oil refineries) because they can genuinely cause a fire or explosion.
At some work areas, ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, vapors or liquids, or combustible gases or dusts, may exist under normal operating conditions, or could be present under abnormal conditions (e.g. leaks). An internal spark or explosion inside a smartphone or tablet may ignite the flammable or combustible materials in the surrounding air. The surface temperature of a mobile device may also increase the risk of igniting the hazardous materials in the air.
Due to the risk of fire or explosion, many firms in the oil & gas and chemical industries don’t allow workers to bring smartphones or tablets with them at specific worksites. Some countries even have regulations in place complicating the situation. Does this mean that some organizations are condemned to never be able to benefit from mobile apps? No! There is a solution.
Safe and Rugged Mobile Devices
Companies in the oil & gas and chemical industries can use safe smartphones and tablets with the proper certifications, allowing them to be brought at sites with hazardous atmospheres that present a risk of fire or explosion. These mobile devices are either designed using “intrinsic safe” or “explosion proof” protection methods. Intrinsic safety is a design technique based on limiting electrical and thermal energy to a level below that required to ignite a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture. “Explosion protection” is a method used to contain an internal spark or explosion and prevent it from causing a much larger blast.
Industrial and rugged mobile devices offer more than an assurance that they are safe for areas with a hazardous atmosphere. They are also built to operate in extreme weather conditions or difficult physical environments. They are designed to withstand high physical stress such as falls, impacts, dust and the effects of liquids. And if you think that simply having the right case, shell or cover for your smartphone or tablet can do the trick, think again!
There are specific features on these rugged mobile devices that make them particularly suitable for rough, industrial environments. Features include a display that can be read under direct sunlight, a waterproof device and screen that can be used under the rain, a much longer battery life, a screen that can be tapped while wearing gloves, more hardware-based buttons and function keys, etc. Some devices even follow military specifications for shock resistance.
If you’re in the oil & gas or chemical industry, and you want to use EHS mobile apps but can’t bring mobile devices on site, there is a solution that consists of using safe and rugged devices. To learn more about such devices, check out the products and solutions of Bartec and their lines of smartphones and industry tablet/tablet PCs.