Strive to be Safe, but Plan for the Accident: Wireless Devices Help Industrial Workplaces


Some of the most dangerous safety hazards in the workplace are occupational injuries or illnesses caused by chemical exposures at industrial plants where quick access to a working safety shower and eyewash station – as well as emergency response to an incident -- is critical. A new wireless switch from Honeywell can help industrial sites quickly, efficiently and affordably monitor equipment in any location to deploy emergency personnel, and ensure systems are regularly tested and operating properly.

Studies show that 80-90 percent of factory operators do not monitor safety showers, meaning if an emergency arises, management may not be aware of it, thus slowing an emergency response. While it’s up to the plants themselves to make sure job sites meet the compliance safety standards created by Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA) to protect workers, it can be a time-intensive, expensive process to implement and maintain.

Honeywell’s new Limitless Wireless Switches – simple, cost-effective wireless devices – can help managers ensure that the plant is compliant with safety standards and employees are protected in case of emergency. The Limitless Wireless is a compact wireless switch installed on an emergency safety shower or eyebath that can monitor the real-time usage of the stations as well as document occurrences and testing of the systems. 

These switches provide the plant operator with a notification, for instance, if an employee pulls a shower handle in an emergency. The technology can also help provide accurate records on shower duration and time since last testing. This means that instead of manually confirming the latest OSHA compliance paper tag, the plant receives a time-stamped notification wirelessly, saving time and cutting down on man-hour costs while improving accuracy. More importantly, the switch can help detect if someone alone in a remote area needs assistance. In real time, the facility’s Digital Control System (DCS) receives alerts that a station is in use and can send help right away.

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"Due to cost constraints, most plants lack comprehensive sensing and control measures for all their systems – including safety systems," said Tom Werner, global product marketing manager at Honeywell Sensing & Control. “Switches act as an insurance policy for employees and equipment. If you’ve been exposed to chemicals, you don’t want to be wondering if that safety shower is in full working order. You just want to get help fast.”

Another benefit to wireless switches is the ability to monitor and identify problem areas, as well as the improper use of safety stations. For example, every time a shower is used, that information is sent back to the plant’s digital control system and operators can use that data to more quickly identify if there are any unexplainable patterns – a shower being used daily, for instance, when no accidents are being reported.