Several personal voltages and current detectors (PVCDs) are on the market today. All are invented and intended to provide additional protection to workers who work with or around energized equipment. Electrical linemen, maintenance workers, first responders, construction crews, electricians, and others are just some of the many vital workers exposed to dangerous electrical threats daily. These devices work by alerting them of an energized electrical field in the vicinity.

But is the ability to detect the presence of voltage enough to keep crew members safe?

For a typical line worker or electrician, being around energized lines is part of the job. When performing repairs or upgrades, workers are trained to observe basic safety protocols and have protective equipment and gear. For the most part, they can stay safe by minding standard safety rules. In these cases, a PVCD is helpful, but not as critical: the workers know the lines are energized and where they are. So electrocution or shock events are generally not due to a worker being unaware of the energized lines, but from some other error: faulty equipment, a mistake, or an accident.

PVCDs are most critical when line workers or first responders respond to emergencies. In these situations, power lines may be down because of a car hitting and knocking down a power pole, a falling tree has pulled lines down, a fire rages in a populated forested area, or there is a natural disaster. It could be in the middle of a storm. It could be at night. In these situations, a worker may not know if an energized source is present or where it may be. In these scenarios, they need a PVCD that can offer more than just electrical detection capabilities. 

When There is an Emergency, What Should a PVCD Be Able To Do?

When you don’t know what’s out there, a PVCD should operate like a sixth sense, telling you that danger is present. But in addition to telling you that danger is out there, it should also tell you where that danger is. 

Electrical and electromagnetic fields cannot be seen, heard, or felt. There is no way to detect when you are exposed to danger, or where that danger is coming from, without some type of detector. While every other PVD and PVCD on the market can alert you when you are in proximity of an energized source, only the Safeguard Equipment® COMPASS line of PVCDs can give you directional information. 

Whenever there is an energized source, the source emits both an electrical field and an electromagnetic field. The intensity of the electric field increases the closer you move to the source. Using this information, COMPASS PVCDs will determine where the power of the electrical field is the strongest. Upon approaching an electric field, the unit will first emit audio and visual alerts. Then it will indicate the location from which the signal is coming by the direction of the sequence of flashing LEDs on the unit.  

Having a 360-degree range of detection is critical for reliable electrical field detection. Electric fields are weak; any solid or liquid object, such as a body, trees, wood, fences, and walls, can block them. When a PVDs is worn on an armband, around the neck, or clipped to the chest, they can only detect electric fields in the line of sight of the user. The lower the detection unit is mounted, the more your body or other barriers can block the signal. Being mounted on the rim of a standard hard hat gives the COMPASS line of PVCDs maximum ability of a full detection range.

Additionally, COMPASS PVCDs have several different sensitivity settings, allowing for a more extended detection range compared to their competitors (some PVDs only detect a field within seven feet). That is too close to give most users a comfortable margin of safety – particularly if they don’t know what direction the source is in relation to where they are. When they see where the threat is coming from, they can both avoid the danger and take measures to eliminate it.

Identifying where a source is coming from using direction detection is just one of the many features that distinguish Safeguard’s products from its competitors, and it’s vital.  

Safeguard Equipment’s COMPASS PVCDs have operational capabilities superior to other PVCDs on the market. If you would like more information about COMPASS PVCDs, or a demonstration of their different features and capabilities, contact Safeguard Equipment today.