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Food & Beverage

Why do I Need A Gas Monitor I Work In The Food Industry?

Gas detection is essential to occupational health in the food and beverage industry. Our instruments are used to monitor potential hazardous materials that are present in the working atmosphere and prevent unwanted exposure. Some industries and private companies use our monitoring instruments to collect data for industrial and internal hygiene requirements.

Below is a list of common gases you could be exposed to as a result of working in the food and beverage industry:

  • Ammonia

  • Hydrogen cyanide

  • Hydrogen sulphide

  • Hydrogen chloride

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Carbon dioxide

  • Nitrogen dioxide

  • Phosphine

  • Lower Explosive Level gases

Where Will I be at Risk?

Examples of where occupational risk increases within the food and beverage industry are in confined spaces such as cold storage and silo’s, delivery and storage of live ingredients, purging and flash freezing.

What about Oxygen?

It is critical to understand the reduction of oxygen and its significance. A reduction in oxygen levels could be caused by microbial activity (fermentation); oxidisation (rusting) of the internal surface of a pipe or tank; or it could be that oxygen is being displaced by another gas.

Oxygen displacement in a confined space could be identified within cold storage units and silo’s when referring to the food and beverage industry.

What are the dangers of Cold Storage?

Cold storage is common within the food and beverage industry as it is essential for quality preservation and regulation.

“But all I need is a coat and gloves!”…

Cold storage of course is cold, and we would recommend you wear a coat and gloves! However, this is not sufficient PPE for a refrigerant worker!

Oxygen content is a major factor in cold storage units for obvious reasons; we need oxygen to breathe! The doors that are fitted to these units are meant to seal in the atmosphere created by the refrigerant and protect its contents from the outside elements. Some cold storage systems may even purposefully pump oxygen out of the room to assist with preservation of the contents inside the cold storage unit.

If a worker is inside a cold storage unit without monitoring equipment, they may have no idea oxygen levels have dissipated to dangerous levels until it’s too late and they pass out.

What is Ammonia Exposure?

Longer exposure times in cold storage could also increase the risk of toxic exposures. The use of monitoring and detection within cold storage is highly important. A lack of due diligence creates opportunity for toxins such as Ammonia, which is a common refrigerant, to accumulate undetected.

This increases occupational risk significantly and without a Portable Gas Monitor analysing the area in which the individual is in, you as the individual or you as a collective company will be unable to monitor and record exposure. This is important when referring to ammonia due to its colourless properties.

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in the atmosphere causes immediate burning of the respiratory system in particular the nose and throat. This can cause bronchiolar and pulmonary alveolar edema. This can also cause airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Inhalation of ammonia in lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.

What about Silo Storage?
Agricultural silos are designed to store silages and high-moisture grains that are used to feed livestock. They are used commonly in the food industry and the growth in population and production leads to an increase in demand for metal silos and grain storage solutions.

Agricultural silos work by creating a pressurised area within a cylindrical container. All products of the food industry are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen etc. Therefore, they are combustible and, consequently, able to cause fires and explosions. Most products require a grinding operation before storage such as cereals. Cereals may have a very fine grain size, during this process if a grain size is below 500 micro-millimetres, they can originate explosive atmospheres if mixed with air.

The most common silo gases are carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Types and concentrations of silo gas vary depending on whether the silo is a conventional silo or oxygen-limiting silo.

Conventional Silo

The most common gas found in a conventional silo is nitrogen dioxide, which has a bleach-like odour and produces yellow, red, or dark brown fumes.


Due to nitrogen dioxide being heavier than air, it settles on top of the silage or flows down the chute and collects in low-lying areas near the base of the silo.

Conventional Silos require an individual to enter the Silo and adjust the unloading system as the silage level gets lower. This increases occupational risk and without a Portable Gas Monitor analysing the area in which the individual is in, you as the individual or you as a collective company will be unable to monitor and record exposure.

Oxygen-limiting Silo

Oxygen-limiting silos are designed so that entering the silo is typically unnecessary however this does not mean that the silo will never need to be entered.

In this type of silo, the fermentation process produces both nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide. The conditions in an oxygen-limiting silo promote greater production of carbon dioxide, which helps maintain high-quality silage.

Carbon dioxide is an odorless and colourless gas that displaces the life-sustaining oxygen in a silo. When levels of carbon dioxide are high, a person may have little warning before being overcome by this gas.

This increases occupational risk significantly and without a Portable Gas Monitor analysing the area in which the individual is in, you as the individual or you as a collective company will be unable to monitor and record exposure.

This is especially important when referring to carbon dioxide due to its odourless and colourless properties.

"I think I may need Safety Instrumentation Monitoring, but I don’t know anything about it!"

You don’t need to understand Safety Instrumentation Monitoring to be safe at work! If you are unsure whether you need a monitor, please call one of the team on the below number.

Call The Team: 01489 326031

You cannot create the need for Safety Instrumentation, the need is either there or isn’t – that why the best way to make sure you are keeping yourself and your own team as safe as possible is to give one of our experienced team members a call! You can speak to us about your site and our team will be able to advise you based off extensive working knowledge, existing and pre-existing clients/projects and industry specific hazards. Our team remain informed in the world of Safety Instrumentation so that we can provide up to date advice in line with best practices. This means whenever you speak to our team you know you are receiving updated support from people who care.

"Our work should enrich our lives, not cost them" - Alex Graft (Managing Director)
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