Oxygen (O2) Monitoring in the Workplace

Since oxygen is required by the body, any decrease in amount or concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere would have a negative effect on it. In fact, the body may exhibit increased breathing volume and faster heartbeat if oxygen concentration decreases to 16-21%. The person who experiences this may also have problems in coordination and thinking. He or she may not be able to attend to his or her activities. If oxygen concentration decreases to 6%, the person will die in minutes. 

On the other hand, if oxygen concentration increases to 23.5%, the environment or the atmosphere is said to be oxygen-enriched. This creates a higher grave risk of explosions and fire because oxygen is also required for combustion of materials. Therefore, combustible materials can easily ignite and burn strongly in an oxygen-enriched environment. Persons who are working in these settings are required to exercise special caution such as wearing personal protective equipment and warning the public against activities that may cause combustion. Although oxygen-enriched environments are not so common, these may still occur when there are oxygen storage systems and if some chemicals that will produce oxygen when decomposed are encountered.

For these reasons, a person who does oxygen monitoring should consider these facts and figures. Oxygen monitoring can help a lot in identifying the oxygen content in the atmosphere. Therefore, considering that oxygen is badly needed in order for the workers to perform their daily activities in the workplace, the amount of oxygen in the work atmosphere is important to know first when the personnel are about to enter the setting. O2 monitoring can detect if the oxygen concentration in the setting is very low that raises a high risk of negative physiologic effects, including death. It can also detect if the oxygen content is too high that poses a high level of flammability in the atmosphere.

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