Blackline Safety - Saving Lives with Data

October 27, 2022

Calgary-based Blackline Safety (BLS)is in the business of connected safety to ensure the safety of workers at industrial sites using its wearable IoT-connected devices for personal and area gas monitoring solutions. Industries have continued to entrust their products with a 100% customer retention rate and their solutions are used by 6 out of 12UK’swater and wastewater companies.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often deemed the “silent killer” because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating. When enough carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in your body’s red blood cells, severe tissue damage and death may ensue. Although less severe, the same can be said of radon gas poisoning. Often being exposed in homes, 21,000 people die each year, according to an EPA estimate, from lung cancer and other lung-related complications. Gas poisoning is especially acute in enclosed environments where poisonous gas is highly concentrated and is not dispersed in an open-air setting. Exposure is a constant source of risk in industrial workplaces.

Hazardous gas abounds in wastewater in sewage plants when organic materials decompose and turn into gas. It is not only dangerous for people to breathe but may explode when ignited by a lack of oxygen. Sewage plant workers are often at high risk in their work environment where there is a high level of dangerous gas, in addition to the risk of slip, trip and fall where they are constantly exposed to wet surfaces from the wastewater while working alone.

There are eight stages in a wastewater treatment process. First, large items are removed using a bar screen to remove large items that can damage pumps and block water flow. Then smaller particles are screened through a grit chamber. The third step is to separate solid organic matter. The fourth step involves pumping air into the water to encourage bacteria to break down the minuscule organic matter naturally. After that, similar to the third step, a secondary clarifier lets more organic sediment sink to the bottom and filter out. Chlorine is added to the water to kill any remaining bacteria to disinfect the water in the sixth step. After the water is then tested for proper pH level, ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, and dissolved oxygen, and residual chlorine to conform to the municipal standard. After the water passes the testing stage, the final step is to channel it back into the environment.

In almost all stages of the wastewater treatment process, there could be many gas hazards. Water in collection tanks, as well as storm and wastewater collection in maintenance holes and wells, contain chlorine (CI2), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Water treatment in chemical storage tanks and injection stations, as well as wastewater treatment in the gas treatment, digester, sediment, aeration, and clarification treatment stages, contain chlorine (CI2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). And finally, water moving through pipelines, trenches, and meter pits contains chlorine, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide.

BLS’ industry-leading G7 comprehensive safety wearable devices can proactively detect gas levels and provide real-time situational awareness so a company’s HSE professionals and industrial hygienists can view the entire fleet on a single screen with real-time alerts. Based on a client's needs, the G7 devices are configured with different cartridges to detect different types of gas, and the devices can detect no-motion (in the event of a slip, trip, a fall, a heart attack or a stroke), gas exposure or a missed check-in. Should a gas detection, motion, or motion anomaly occur, alert messages can be configured to be sent toa plant member or supervisor so that actions can be taken to keep the team safe with the goal of not having any reportable incidents.

G7 Device from BLS

The G7 data stream produces three types of reporting views:

1.        Live, raw reporting on Blackline Live portal

2.       Delayed, filtered on Blackline Analytics portal

3.       Scheduled monthly, weekly automated email reporting

Alerts report from the Blackline Live portal

BLS facilitates the integration of their curated safety wearable IoT data based on a topic (i.e. TELUS, Twilio, AWS or NetSuite). The G7 data flow begins with the device sending geolocation, motion and gas readings data to the AWS Cloud via a system optimized for high-speed data ingestion, instantaneously using satellite and 3G cellular connectivity. Blackline Safety addresses connectivity issues commonly faced by lone workers in the field with additional bridges, beacons and area monitors, thus making it very difficult to not be monitored if connected with their devices. The live real-time data is displayed unfiltered on the Blackline Live Portal with no historical data except for the device and alert logs. While the Blackline Analytics on the portal provides all the historic trends, patterns driving actionable insights in a palatable manner within 3-6 hours of obtaining the data from the device.

Aside from this streaming output, data gets enriched, structured and stored in the company’s Amazon Redshift data warehouse, which can then be queried, visualized, and reported on the Blackline Analytics page on the portal. Analytics pipelines curate actionable insights for clients by uncovering safety and productivity trends that provide direction to businesses in a data-driven manner. In addition to online interactive reporting, Blackline has a well-established automated email reporting system that sends reports as PDFs or CSV files to clients’ mailboxes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. When one size does not fit all – customized versions of reports based on the client’s requirements in specific formats are also available on aper-client basis and resources available. While the essential suite of reports take care of all the compliance, device usage, alerts and fleet management needs, premium suite of analytics pave the way to more informative, predictive and diagnostic reporting insights such as required for confined space monitoring and real-time dashboarding requirements.

Blackline's data architecture

Data clustering ML modeling is also used to help clients improve workforce safety by predicting early gas leaks and identifying low-level gas reading patterns without needing additional equipment on a custom reporting basis. Proactive detection allows gas leaks to be identified early automatically to enhance safety further for workers.

Working in a wastewater treatment plant can be dangerous, and workers are often required to work alone around the clock to ensure our water quality at remote pumping stations and reservoirs. With Blackline Safety’s comprehensive suite of safety monitoring, detection, and predictive analytics solutions, everyone from wastewater company managers to the children of wastewater treatment plant workers can sleep better at night knowing the safety of workers is in good hands.

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