Together Again – At Last!

This post is dedicated to Mr. K.E. McElhattan, our Founder, without him, none of this would have been possible.

When I walked into 7848 Steubenville Pike for the first time in 1986 as the 42nd employee of Industrial Scientific Corporation, I knew I had found a home.  I was welcomed into the family – 42 people working together, under one roof, with one common goal to make certain that our customers could bet their lives on our instruments and that everyone of them would go home safely at the end of every day.  But like many families, over time we outgrew our home and separation was inevitable.

The first break came in 1991 when we left our Service Department and Machine Shop brothers and sisters behind and moved down the hill to Oakdale Road.  The adjustment was made quite easily and running back up the hill to deliver an instrument here and there or pickup a needed part wasn’t all that big of a deal.  But when we were bursting at the seams and had to split again in 2011, things became much more hectic.  We were now spread into four locations with the distance between them measured in miles instead of  fractions.  The family had been separated.  We would see each other at the occasional meeting or sometimes around the holidays or at that special “family” event.  Despite tremendous effort from everyone, we fell victim to the inefficiencies of time and space.  We became frustrated running from building to building, often ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were doing our best to continue to work together with the same goals that we had in 1986, but it would have been naïve of anyone to believe that our customers hadn’t felt our pain and frustration as well.

Last Monday, as I walked off the stairs at the fourth floor I was greeted by our Chairman with a hearty handshake and “Welcome Home!” And it felt great!  I was back “home” again, in the first wave of a migration that will bring everyone, in just a few short weeks, home to our new headquarters. Together again – at last,  more than 420 of us in a new house designed specifically for the family to all work under one much bigger roof toward a bigger goal of ending death on the job and making sure that every worker makes it home safe everyday.

People  may drive by and see our new home above the “parkway” and say that it’s majestic.  It is.  Some may drive by and say  “they must do important work there.”  We do.  Hopefully, there will be many who drive by and say “the family that lives there saved my life one day.”

On behalf of the Industrial Scientific family, I would like to extend the invitation to all of our customers to visit us in our new home at One Life Way, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We would love to have you drop in and meet the family that is working together for you.

Back home again,








5 Questions to Ask Before Renting Gas Detection Equipment

Why rent? The expenses and maintenance burdens of owning gas detection equipment for short-term needs often makes renting the better option. But, not all rental programs are as cost-effective and/or convenient as they might sound. Some have hidden costs that don’t surface until after the rental period is complete. Or, your special project is due to begin and your order doesn’t arrive with the accessories that you’ll need.

To ensure a painless rental experience in which all of your equipment needs are met, following are 5 questions to ask any manufacturer before renting:

  1. When does the rental period start and when does it end?
  2. What is included with the gas detectors?
  3. What gas detectors would be ideal for a given application?
  4. Do I need to pay for sensors?
  5. How will freight charges be handled?

Additional context for each of these questions can be found in this article,  recently published in Canadian Occupational Safety magazine. To request a quote from Industrial Scientific for rental equipment, visit

Happy Renting!



Is Data the “King” of Your Gas Detection Program?

ISC_MX6_C_sidemanhole8759_LR_smallBeing that we live in the age of data and that there are easier ways than ever before to collect data on almost any subject, complying with tougher safety reporting standards should be second nature. But is this true when it comes to gas detection? Should data be the king of your program?

Gas detection programs exist for the purpose of saving lives. Whether the gas detectors are  used for personal protection, exposure assessment, leak detection, confined space entry or hot work permitting, can there be any better reason for data to be king in gas detection than to help make good decisions aimed at making the workplace safer?

There are three things every safety professional must know with regard to gas detection in order to run an effective program:

  1. Are gas detectors working properly?
  2. Are gas detectors being used properly?
  3. What gas hazards are workers being exposed to?

The answers to these three questions lie in the data that should be collected from the program. Instrument bump test and calibration records hold key data points which help determine whether or not gas detectors are working properly. In much the same way, data can be used to help determine whether or not gas detectors are being used properly. Data can clearly show if gas detectors are used after being bump tested or calibrated properly, and data will not only show when a gas detector has gone into alarm, it can show how the users reacted to the alarm.  Did they evacuate the area immediately? Did they ignore the alarm and keep on working in a hazardous condition? Did they turn the instrument off in order to avoid the nuisance?

At the end of the day, improvements to your gas detection program and your overall safety program will only occur if you use the data that you have available to you. Too often, data that is collected from a fleet of gas detectors is just stored in a file folder or database and never looked at again. Or worse yet, it is not looked at until some catastrophic event forces a post-mortem investigation of the numbers. But don’t let that happen. Make data KING of your gas detection program.

This post is a except from a full article written by Dave Wagner and published in Occupational Health & Safety magazine. Access the full article at



It’s National Farm Safety & Health Week: A review of the gas hazards workers face

DSC_5576National Farm Safety and Health Week is observed September 21-27, 2014. In support of this year’s theme, “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters Most,” here’s a review of the dangerous gases faced by workers in the industry.

Most common is hydrogen sulfide (H2S). H2S is a colorless gas that is known by its characteristic rotten egg-like color. Because it appears naturally from decomposition, locations such as hog, chicken and other livestock farms containing manure storage or pits are capable of producing this deadly gas.

Another dangerous gas often present in agriculture is nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It is yellow/brown in color and has a pungent, acrid odor. Emitted from fresh silage, toxic levels of NO2 have been known to cause an occupational lung disease known as Silo-Filler’s disease. Pulmonary edema and even death are other risks associated with exposure to high concentrations of this gas. In low-concentration atmospheres, NO2 can cause irritation of the eyes and throat.

To learn about gas monitors that can aid in the detection of H2S and NO2, visit

This post was contributed by Candace Adrian, Marketing Communications Specialist at Industrial Scientific. 


Are you ready to Imagine iNet?

Industrial Scientific's booth at AIHce 2014.

Our booth at AIHce 2014.

At the AIHce 2014 expo in San Antonio, Texas last month, we launched the “Imagine iNet” campaign at our booth. The campaign urges gas detection users to simply imagine their worlds with iNet, and it goes something like this…

Imagine a program that takes care of your gas detection program for you. With a click of a button, instrument bump tests are scheduled. When a sensor fails, a new monitor is on its way to you. With a glance at an online dashboard, you’ll see that a worker turned off an alarming instrument. Imagine your peace of mind. Imagine iNet.

Are you ready to Imagine iNet yet? Visit the following page to view a new animation video:

Lastly, if you’re heading to San Diego in September for the NSC Congress & Expo, be sure to stop by our booth to talk with us about your program and how iNet can help. We look forward to seeing you in America’s Finest City!


This post was contributed by Candace Adrian (, Marketing Communications Specialist at Industrial Scientific.


Upcoming Webinar on Realizing ROI from Your Gas Detection Program

On Thursday, June 26th at 2 p.m., I’ll be presenting a webinar with ISHN magazine titled “Realizing ROI from Your Gas Detection Program.” Nearly every day, companies are faced with making decisions that beg the question – what is the ROI? Even when it comes to choosing the products and services that keep workers safer, the same question looms. But what about your gas detection program? What is the ROI of it, if any? In this webinar, I’ll cover:

– Why a safe workplace equates to good business
– Why keeping workers truly safe from hazardous gases requires a complete gas detection program
– How your investment in a complete gas detection program ensures an ROI to your overall business

Register here. Hope to “see” you there! After the webinar, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them here.



How One Little Microscope Changed the Face of Gas Detection in a Big Way

It all began one afternoon in 1984 at a meeting of the Anderson Strathclyde Board of Directors in Glasgow, Scotland.  Anderson Strathclyde was the parent company and owner of 51% of National Mine Service Company, whose Chief Executive, Kenton E. McElhattan, was attending the meeting.  During the meeting, Mr. McElhattan was challenged by Anderson Strathclyde’s CFO for spending  $600 to purchase a used microscope that was sorely needed by National Mine’s Industrial Safety Division to conduct research on better ways of sensing methane gas. As a producer of heavy mining machinery and systems, Anderson Strathclyde struggled to understand the research and development needs of National Mine Service associated with developing electronic gas monitoring products for use by workers in underground mines. Concluding a rather spirited discussion that afternoon, Mr. McElhattan pulled his personal checkbook from his briefcase and asked, “To whom should I make the $600 check payable?”

With a vision of a company dedicated to saving lives, in which employees had a voice and were encouraged to use it, Mr. McElhattan ultimately proposed a resolution whereby he would return to the U.S., step down from his position and, along with his son Kent, purchase the Industrial Safety Division of National Mine Service. The sale became final on January 25, 1985, and the newly independent division became known as Industrial Scientific Corporation. Thirty years later, Industrial Scientific has grown to become a leading  provider of gas detection products and services with their sights focused on the vision of ending death on the job due to gas accidents. Today, the company helps to keep hundreds of thousands of workers safe in hazardous environments around the world – all thanks to that little, used microscope.

Keep safe – today and everyday,


PS – Thanks to Joe Buckley, Industrial Scientific Training Specialist, for his contributions to this post.


Turnarounds are “Wright ” Around the Corner

Today we are welcoming guest blogger Jason Wright to AskDave.

Spring is in the air. Winter is finally coming to an end and the harsh, cold weather going along with it. Time to set the clocks forward. Flowers will be blooming, buds on the trees. Spring. A time for renewal, a time for rebirth, a time for… TURNAROUNDS!!!

When a unit shuts down for maintenance within a refinery, mill, power plant, etc., it typically means the workforce performing the construction, repairs and maintenance will increase greatly during that timeframe. These outqages  typically last from a week to a couple of months. The plant may have enough safety equipment to cover their operations folks, but are sometimes tasked with supplying the contractors with safety equipment as well.  Included in that list of safety equipment are gas detectors.

A great solution for these “short term” needs for extra gas detection equipment is the same as for other instances in which something is needed to cover a short time period – rentals. Gas detection rental for turnarounds, shutdowns, and outages has proven to be the most economical option, and also the most practical.

Not only can there be a challenge associated with the sheer volume of gas detectors needed during a turnaround, but sometimes there is also a challenge regarding which type of gas detector is needed. The work being performed by the maintenance/construction crews during a shut down is often of a different nature, and requires a type of gas detector different from what would typically be used or needed (ex. personal monitor vs. monitor with a pump) in the plant. The work could also require a sensor configuration different from the configuration typically supplied by the plant to the operations crew.

Bump testing and calibrating the influx of extra gas detectors can also be a challenge. This again can be solved by renting extra docking stations to perform these tasks. The stations will speed the process and help to keep records of the tasks performed.

My name is Jason Wright, National Account Manager for Rental at Industrial Scientific. I encourage you to consider whether or not gas detection rental is the “Wright” option for your program’s short term needs! Also, if you have any questions about our rental program including some of our latest products like the Tango TX1 and the Ventis MX4, feel free to comment on this post with your question or send me an email directly to



Happy Birthday ISC!

This is a rare Saturday post, but the occasion certainly warrants it.

Twenty-nine years ago today, January 25, 1985, the courage and vision of our founders led them to risk taking a small division of National Mine Service Company independent and give birth to Industrial Scientific Corporation.  And look at us now!

We have grown from 32 employees in Oakdale, PA at the start to nearly 750 worldwide today.  We have branched out from our underground roots in the mining industry to put portable gas detection on the International Space Station and in virtually every industry in between.  We introduced the 200-Series multi-gas instruments, the most rugged gas detectors ever produced, expanded from the early 3-gas detectors to monitor up to six gases in one instrument today, and introduced Dual Sense technology, using redundant sensors in a single-gas instrument to keep workers safer than ever before.  We made the term “docking station” ubiquitous in the industry and created the first subscription gas detection program, iNet, to deliver gas detection as a service to more than 5000 customer sites in 27 countries.

As employees of Industrial Scientific we have been privileged to serve and touch countless lives with our work and are dedicated to achieving the vision of ending death in the workplace in this century.  We will stop at nothing to ensure that every worker makes it home safely ever day.  The challenges and opportunities in front of us are great, but if the first 29 years are any example, the coming years will bring that vision into focus. 

Thank you K.E. and Kent for your courage, vision, leadership and unwavering commitment to Industrial Scientific. Happy Birthday ISC!




Are Low-Power Infrared Sensors the Cure-All for Combustible Gas Detection?

In a recent article entitled “LED-Driven Infrared Sensors: Shining New Light on LEL Gas Measurement for Oil and Gas and Confined Space Entry Applications” published in Industrial Hygiene News, Bryan Bates, CEO of GasClip Technologies, touted the benefits of using low-power infrared sensors for detecting combustible gases over the industry standard catalytic bead sensing technology.  While there can be no doubt that the comparatively minimal power consumption, ability to detect gas in an inert atmosphere and the immunity from poisons of IR sensors provides tangible benefits in some applications, the infrared technology does come with some significant shortcomings.

First and foremost, the infrared sensor has no ability to detect hydrogen – Period.   If the sensor is being used in any application to detect combustible gas on a general basis and there is any possibility that hydrogen may be encountered, the user of the instrument will be left unprotected.  Bates acknowledges this limitation but promotes the cross interference of the typical carbon monoxide sensor to hydrogen, which is typically on the order of 40 – 60 percent as the cure for this ill.  When did relying on the shortcomings of one sensor to make up for the shortcomings of another become a recommended or acceptable practice?  The cross interference of hydrogen on the CO sensor is very common, and although the response stated here is typical, it can vary greatly from sensor to sensor.  What happens if a given sensor has a significantly less level of interference?   Hydrogen interference on carbon monoxide sensors results in false CO alarms which leads the user to a lack of trust and confidence in the monitor.  Once this occurs repeatedly, the user is as likely to turn the monitor off or not use it at all as he/she is to heed its warnings, regardless of the level of training that they may have.

A key benefit of the catalytic bead gas sensor is that it the only sensing technology which detects gas based on the hazard of the gas itself – it detects combustible gas by burning it.   The catalytic bead sensor is capable of detecting virtually any combustible gas, because it is combustible.  By contrast, the detection capability of the infrared sensor is limited by the IR adsorption characteristics of the gas and the bandwidth of the IR filter in the sensor.   Many combustible gases are simply undetectable by this type of low power infrared sensor.  Examples of non-detectable combustible gases include acetylene, acrylonitrile, aniline and carbon disulfide.  Bates acknowledges the limitation of the sensor for detecting acetylene, a very common hazard in hot work and confined space entry applications, and again promotes the interference of the carbon monoxide sensor as the solution to this pitfall.  The argument given above with respect to hydrogen remains the same and gets broad when you take into account that the CO sensor may not have a cross interference to a given combustible gas that is simply not within the scope of detection of the infrared sensor.  

The response of the catalytic bead sensor to combustible gas is inherently linear and there is relatively close correlation in the response from one gas to another with respect to the calibration gas.  Response factors for catalytic bead sensors to various gases are typically less than two.  The response of the infrared sensor is non-linear and only becomes linear once the sensor is characterized to a particular gas.  Response factors between gases also vary greatly and can be greater than a factor of ten in some cases.   For example, an infrared sensor that is characterized to methane will provide a non-linear response to pentane or propane and accordingly the response factor will only be accurate at one point on the response curve.  If a gas with a response factor of 10 or greater is encountered, the instrument would produce a false alarm when the actual gas concentration was just 1-percent of the LEL.  The chart below highlights the difference in gas response factors between catalytic bead and low-power infrared combustible gas sensors.


Sensor Type







Catalytic Bead















Catalytic bead sensors are relatively unaffected by varying environmental conditions such as temperature and pressure.  These factors greatly affect the performance of the infrared sensor and therefore the sensor must be characterized for these environmental effects in order to provide an accurate and reliable response.

As stated above, the benefits of the infrared technology for detecting combustible gases in some applications are undeniable.  However, before dismissing the long-standing, industry standard catalytic bead technology, you must make sure that your application is appropriately matched to the technical capabilities of the sensor.   Otherwise, the risk you have exposed yourself to may be far greater than the reward.


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