Safe by design – building safety into our products

Over the past few months, there have been some radical changes to our everyday lives which have reframed for many of us what safety means and how it is achieved.

At Smiths Detection, everything we do helps to make the world a safer place. A common phrase you will hear throughout Smiths Detection is that “safety comes first”. Always. This is to make sure that our team members and customers can go about their work without risk of harm. This applies to aiming to provide injury-free workplaces for both our own people and anyone visiting our facilities, and implementing world-wide activities to improve our safety culture, behaviours and risk reduction. But it also means ensuring that our technology is safe too.

That is why when we were developing our newly launched ultraviolet-light (UV) disinfection kit for checkpoint trays, we made sure that it not only protects passengers and staff from the risk of disease transmission, but that it is also completely safe to use and does not put travellers, security operators or maintenance staff at risk of exposure to UV-C light.

The short-wavelength, high-energy UV radiation of UV-C light is strongly absorbed by most organic materials, which makes it effective for killing micro-organisms, but it also means that it can be harmful if not handled with care. To mitigate this, we designed safety into the solution:

  • Robust metal housing ensures there is no UV leakage and that relevant safety standards – such as ISO 15858:2016, which clearly defines permissible UV leakage thresholds – are being met.
  • Interlocks automatically shut off the UV-C lamps in the event of an emergency stop, tray blockages on the conveyor belt or on opening the module.
  • We provide testing equipment as well as detailed method statements to enable our customers to routinely measure UV leakage and ozone levels (a by-product of all UV-light systems) as well as disinfection performance, so they can be sure about the safe and efficient operation of the system.

In the last couple of weeks, many new UV disinfection solutions have been brought to market in response to COVID-19.  Many however appear to show extensive UV light leakage and a lack of design diligence in terms of built in safety with, for example, no interlocks.  It is also unclear from the specifications if all these solutions meet the extensive range of health and safety requirements related to the usage of UV light. At Smiths Detection we stand by safety never being compromised: you should not be exchanging one threat for another. To achieve our mission, we know safety must come first. Always.