What Does Leak Detection Mean?
Leak detection refers to the practice of ensuring that a contained substance or space does not have any leaks of substances into or out of the system, which could introduce potential hazards into the workplace.
As a practice, leak detection involves both manual inspection and automated detection systems such as specialized gas detection systems.
Safeopedia Explains Leak Detection
Detecting the presence of a leak using manual inspection often involves the use of direct reading systems, which are portable devices that measure the amount of a chemical present within a localized area. These measurements can be used to locate areas of high chemical concentration that indicate the source of a leak.
The use of leak detection systems is a recommended practice in many workplaces. In some cases, it may be required to ensure the continued safety of a workplace. These cases include instances in which a leak could indicate the beginning of a potentially catastrophic safety hazard (e.g. a combustible substance leak) and instances in which employees’ exposure to a specific chemical substance exceeds statutory exposure limits. For instance, OSHA requires that employers implement regular leak-detection surveys in workplaces where exposure to ethylene oxide (EtO) exceeds limits. EtO is a common sterilizing agent used in hospitals and other industries.
Leak detection can be used to detect flammable substances, acid gases, smoke, explosive substances, and toxic substances. Common detector types include UV detectors, IR detectors, smoke detectors, heat detectors, and detectors designed to respond to the presence of a specific chemical substance. Among the most common types of hazardous leaks are exhaust and fume leaks, which can release potentially deadly amounts of carbon monoxide into work environments that lack significant ventilation.