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Bump Testing For Gas Detectors: Everything You Need to Know

Bump Testing For Gas Detectors: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Claire Allcock on 20th Feb 2020

Bump testing your gas detectors is a quick and easy way to ensure your safety systems are up to scratch. But what exactly is it, and how is it used?

What Bump Testing Means

A bump test is a qualitative function check, involving passing a specific gas over the sensors to activate alarm settings. This verifies that the detector responds when it should, and also confirms the alarm systems are working as they should do.

It’s important to remember that a bump test does not calibrate the sensors and does not test accuracy, so shouldn’t be used in replacement of a full calibration — which should be part of regularly scheduled maintenance.

Why We Bump Test Gas Detectors

When a vital safety check takes 40-60 seconds, why wouldn’t you regularly bump test your gas detectors? It takes less time to carry out than it does to put on the rest of your PPE!

Just like putting on a seatbelt to drive a car, bump testing should become second nature to the personnel in the hazardous environment. It also gives you peace of mind to know that the sensors are performing as they should, and will protect you when you need it the most.

When You Need to Bump Test

Different manufacturers will recommend their optimum frequency for their specific gas detectors. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that a bump test is performed by the on-duty personnel that will be operating the system, at the start of each working day.

If you’re unsure of the right frequency for bump testing your gas detection equipment, perform a risk assessment that takes into account manufacturer recommendations, your specific environment and the needs of your workplace.

How to Bump Test Gas Detection Sensors

To bump test your gas detectors, you need to expose the sensor to a known concentration of a challenge gas that your system is set up to detect. The reading that appears is then compared to the actual quantity of gas present — which will be recorded on the test gas cylinder. If the detector’s alarm sounds within an acceptable range (usually within 10%), the system is working properly and will protect your workforce.

If your environment uses a fixed gas detection system, you can install extra components that automate bump testing, making this important safety check an ingrained part of everyday life.

If you choose to continue with manual bump testing, it is a great opportunity to check the physical integrity of your sensors. Check that sensor filters are not blocked with dirt, chemicals or debris, look for cracks to the housing or screen, and make a note of any missing parts (such as screws or compliance/certification stickers).

Failing a Bump Test

If the readings are outside the allowable range, the alarm is not audible, the visual alarms are not working, or has delayed reaction, your sensor has failed. Don’t despair — it’s better to catch dysfunction in a bump test than risking the lives of your workers!

You may need to do a full calibration, carry out repairs, or return the detectors to the manufacturer, depending on the issue.

Bump testing your gas detectors is a quick and easy process that keeps all of your workforce safe. It can highlight issues before they become dangerous, and potentially save lives — does bump testing feature in your regular safety protocol?