Safety precautions should start as early as the design stage, and extend far beyond into product and personnel certification
—Sponsored article by CSA Group
Industrial accidents in any environment can be tragic. But when these accidents happen in hazardous locations — those where explosive elements like flammable gas or vapour, liquid and dust are present — the results can be catastrophic, and may result in personal injury or property damages, including environmental damage.
Hazardous locations (Hazloc) are found in a wide range of sectors, including oil and gas, mining, wastewater, food and beverage, and manufacturing. To help reduce the risks associated with operating in such environments, it is important to increase the awareness of safe working practices and requirements, and take all appropriate steps to help avoid an accident.
When it comes to electrical equipment used in hazardous environments, these safety precautions should start as early as the design stage, and extend far beyond that into product and personnel certification. Both the equipment designer and those responsible for its install, operation and maintenance must have a complete understanding of safety requirements. After all, the use of untrained workers, equipment that is unfit for the designated purpose, and improper storage, repair and maintenance of equipment are often the cause of industrial accidents in hazardous locations.
CSA Group can help. Its testing and certification services, combined with its highly skilled technical staff, offer a competitive advantage to global manufacturers of products used in hazardous locations.
Is the product designed and tested for safe use?
National codes and standards have requirements for electrical equipment used in hazardous locations — where fire or explosion may result from the presence of flammable gases, vapours or liquids, combustible dusts, or ignitable fibres or flyings —to help reduce the incidence of explosions. This is a critical step in helping manufacturers ensure that their products and machinery are designed and tests for safe use in these environments.
When designing equipment, it is important to understand the codes and standards adopted by each jurisdiction where a product might be used. It is also critical to consider the intended use of the product — considerations such as what protection method will be employed to help ensure safe installation and use of the equipment, what type of hazards the product will be exposed to, and what type of environment the product will be operating in. These factors should act as the foundation of the design, and then demonstrate compliance through testing and certification.
CSA Group has considerable expertise when it comes to the testing and certification of equipment used in hazardous locations across the globe. Its capabilities include testing to North American, European and international standards and requirements. In North America, for example, the organization can help companies obtain the CSA Mark for the U.S. and Canada which is widely recognized by regulatory authorities.
In the U.S., CSA Group is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and is able to test and certify equipment used in hazardous locations to applicable U.S. codes and standards. CSA Group also tests to standards recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. In Canada, the organization is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada to test and certify equipment used in hazardous locations to applicable Canadian standards.
CSA Group is also knowledgeable about the international three-zone area classification system for equipment used in hazardous locations. The U.S. and Canada have recently revised installation codes to recognize this three-zone system, which refers to areas in which an explosive gas atmosphere is continuously present for a long period of time, areas in which an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation, and areas in which an explosive gas atmosphere does not normally exist.
CSA Group’s highly skilled technical staff can also provide testing and certification services for equipment used in hazardous locations in Europe, as required by the ATEX directive, which was developed to ensure the free movement of goods throughout the European Union by harmonizing compliance procedures. CSA Group has streamlined the process to obtain ATEX certification, and offers IEC 61508 functional safety compliance services and a suite of ATEX training services to help companies understand the European regulatory requirements for products used in hazardous locations.
In addition, CSA Group’s technical experts will work with companies to help understand the approvals they need under the International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive Scheme (IECEx) for electrical equipment used in hazardous locations around the world. As a recognized IECEx Body and Testing Laboratory, the organization can help streamline the process by testing to a single set of IEC standards for the certification and testing needs of companies within countries that have adopted the IEC requirements.
Are workers adequately trained?
Serious injuries and fatalities can occur when workers are not properly trained in safety requirements. It is the responsibility of stakeholders to ensure that their own personnel, as well as their suppliers and contractors, are capable and competent.
A great place to start is to gain a basic understanding of the product certification process. CSA Group offers a free online course that helps do just this, covering how to properly identify minimum safety and performance testing requirements, choosing the right certification body, and how CSA Group’s accredited certification and testing program can help meet your certification needs.
Beyond the basics, CSA Group provides training to help companies understand the certification requirements for products and personnel operating in hazardous locations. This training addresses the basic principles of hazardous areas; Ex product certification for manufacturers in North America, Europe and the U.K.; hazardous area requirements for electrical equipment; repair of electrical motors and generators for use in hazardous locations; and the IECEx Personnel Competence Scheme.
It is critical for workers to understand the requirements for equipment repair, inspection and maintenance, and have a thorough program in place. This is because repairs, if handled improperly, may negate the protective measures that were put in place to avoid a fire or explosion. Equipment that is not maintained carries similar risks.
Are best practices in place?
Incorporating safety features into the initial design, ensuring proper testing and certification, proper maintenance of products, and training the personnel operating and maintaining this equipment on an ongoing basis, should always be considered best practice. In fact, it is a fundamental step to helping reduce personal injury or property damage, including environmental damage resulting from accidents in hazardous locations.
Working with CSA Group to identify testing, certification and training needs helps companies understand the requirements, and gives them confidence that they are working with a global leader that offers highly skilled technical staff and unrivalled service, worldwide.
CSA Group is an independent organization dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. CSA certification marks appear on billions of qualified products worldwide.
To view more articles on workplace safety, business strategy and industry standards, see the Safety & Sustainability Success Centre.