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A Guide to Explosive Hazardous Environments

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A Guide to Explosive Hazardous Environments

What are potentially explosive atmospheres and how do they occur?

Potentially explosive atmospheres arise when air, under normal atmospheric conditions, mixes with dusts, vapours or gases that are likely to ignite or explode, spreading to the entire unburned mixture.

Where can explosive atmospheres be found?

Any facility that processes flammable substances is exposed to risks from explosive atmospheres. This includes facilities in industries such as: the food industry, mining and heavy industries, petrochemical plants and offshore oil rigs to name a few.

Hazardous area compliance and certification requirements

IECX System

The IECx System is the International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres.

The objective of this system is to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres, whilst maintaining the required level of safety.

ATEX Directives

ATEX is the name commonly given to atmospheres that are potentially explosive. There are two regionaL European ATEX directives for controlling potentially explosive atmospheres:

1) Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137‘ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive‘) on minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. This full text is available for reading here.

2) Directive 94/9/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 95‘ or ‘the ATEX Equipment Directive‘) on the approximation of the laws of Members States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. This full text is available for reading here.

What are Hazardous Zones and how are they classified?

Areas in which potentially explosive atmospheres may arise are classified into zones based on their likelihood and persistence. It is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the classification of the site is performed before suitable products, including light fittings installed at the premises.

Hazardous Gas, Vapor and Mist Environments: ATEX Zones 1&2

Zone 1 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is likely to occur occasionally throughout normal operation.

Zone 2 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air or flammable substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is not likely to occur during normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.

Both chemical and petrochemical plants are extremely common examples of ATEX Zone1 and ATEX Zone 2 classified operations, in which there is a heightened danger of explosion throughout the course of daily plant processes.

Hazardous Dust Environments: ATEX Zones 21 and 22

Zone 21 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in the air is likely to occur occasionally in normal operation.

Zone 22 – A place in which an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of combustible dust in air is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.

Specific to hazardous dust environments, ATEX Zones 21 and 22 are often found within the food industry for example within a flour mill where explosive dusts are often present. Within the food industry, the major risk is that if any combustible substance is mixed or suspended in air at the correct concentrations and confined within a container or building when ignition occurs, this can result in a violent explosion.

Hazardous area compliance and certification requirements

ATEX zones

At Hilclare, all of our LED products are certified and designed to International and European specifications for IEC and ATEX applications. We supply a large range of LED lighting solutions appropriate for zones 1, 2, 21 and 22, making us an ideal supplier for all of your hazardous area needs.

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