Hazardous Workplace Environments: When are ATEX Torches Required?22nd May 2018 // Bronya Bouchia
In certain sectors, you may have to work under potentially hazardous conditions, also known as, ‘explosive atmospheres’. An explosive atmosphere is defined as:
“A mixture of dangerous substances with air, under atmospheric conditions, in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.”
To safely work in hazardous workplaces, you’ll need equipment that will not ignite in an explosive atmosphere. That’s where ATEX torches come in. Unlike standard torches, these are designed to be used in explosive atmospheres, thereby reducing the risk of ignition and fires. To give you more information, we’ve put together this short guide on ATEX approved torches and the workplaces or situations where they are required.
ATEX Directive: Controlling hazards and risks in the workplace
‘ATEX’ is the name of the European directives for controlling explosive atmospheres. The first directive (ATEX 137) refers to the minimum requirements for protecting the health and safety of those working in explosive atmospheres. The second directive (ATEX 95) refers to the equipment and protective systems that are to be used in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Equipment that is ATEX approved means that it complies with the ATEX 95 directive. However, you will need to look at your torches’ zone number to find the specific type of explosive atmosphere that it can be used in.
Hazardous area zones
ATEX intrinsically safe torches are given a specific zone number. These refer to the frequency, duration and occurrence of an explosive atmosphere, and tells you whether your torch can be used in those conditions. To help you find the right lighting solution, we’ve put together the tables below on the ATEX zone numbers and what they mean.
Gases, vapours and mists
|0||An area where the explosive atmosphere consists of a mix of air and dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist and these are present continuously, for long periods or frequently.|
|1||An area where the explosive atmosphere consists of a mixture of air and dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist, and this is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.|
|2||An area where the explosive atmosphere consists of a mixture of air and dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist, but this is not likely to occur in normal operation. However, if it does occur, it will persist for a short period of time only.|
|20||An area where an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of flammable dust in the air is present continuously, for long periods or frequently.|
|21||An area where an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of flammable dust in the air is present in normal operation occasionally.|
|22||An area where an explosive atmosphere in the form of a cloud of flammable dust in the air is not likely to occur in normal operation. However, if it does occur, it will persist for a short period only.|
Which hazardous workplaces are ATEX torches required in?
We’ve taken a closer look at some of the more common workplaces where ATEX torches are required.
Fire and rescue
Fire and rescue teams often face dangerous and potentially explosive environments in their day-to-day lives. No matter whether it’s a collapsed building or house fire, there’s always a risk of hazardous materials being present. Take the recent incident at Manchester University, where the emergency services were called to investigate ‘unstable chemicals’ that were found in a university laboratory. Whilst the situation ended up being safe, hazardous response teams and were called to the incident as a precaution.
Having an intrinsically safe torch, such as the 3415 Zone 0, in their kit means that the risk of causing further ignition or explosion is eliminated, and they can carry out their job safely.
Don’t forget you only have until 31st May 2018 to nominate your local Emergency Service Heroes!
Utilities, renewables and energy
Those who work with the likes of natural gas and electricity in the utilities and energy industries can be exposed to a mix of potentially hazardous gases. To comply with hazard control measures, ATEX approved torches such as the Peli 3315 LED Zone 0 are required. This allows workers to carry out tasks safely and efficiently, without the risk of explosion.
ATEX approved torches give you peace of mind that you can carry out your job without endangering yourself or the people around you. To learn more, read our guide to intrinsically safe torches to find the perfect lighting solution for your workplace.