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Awaiting Autumn

Author : Ron Sinclair MBE is SGS Baseefa Technical Manager and chairs committees for both ATEX and IECEx

03 August 2017

Because of the editorial deadlines for HazardEx, I am putting finger to keyboard at the start of August, but already looking forward to a busy series of meetings in the autumn.  The first meeting of the busy season is scheduled for the last week of September, in Washington DC.  


The main annual meeting of the IECEx Certification System follows a regular pattern, with the first two days being meetings of the IECEx Test and Assessment Group (ExTAG), and the final two days being the formal management Committee Meeting (MC).  Sandwiched in the middle, this year, is the Industry Day, where the great and the good of North America are invited to hear the latest topics from industry experts that are already gathered because of the IECEx meetings.

We will have a training session, looking at aspects that need a bit of discussion, before the session where we approve various ExTAG decision sheets.  These are the collected wisdom of the certification body members, and provide an agreed way of working when the standards or other documents are not clear.  It is not intended to usurp the prerogative of the standards committees, but IECEx can act much faster and it is sometimes necessary to get rapid agreement.

At the MC it is the national member bodies that have the power, approving both individual scheme rules and related Operational Documents.  The MC also has financial oversight to the whole IECEx System.

A quick return to the UK for a change of luggage, and it is off to Vladivostok for the IEC General Meeting.  Although the General Meeting provides a focus for the occasion, most people, like myself, will only be attending meetings related to their own standards committees.  In my case, IEC TC31, responsible for all the international standards applicable to Ex Equipment.  I will be attending five different meetings over the five day period.

That we have fewer meetings than usual this autumn reflects the fact that Vladivostok has not proved a popular venue.  It is not the actual venue – we will be meeting in a university and staying in university accommodation about 30 kilometres outside the city – but the hassle of getting there. 

Apart from leading the UK delegation to the TC 31 plenary meeting, my most important task will be as a member of Working Group 22, where we will be considering comments received on the FDIS version of the next edition of IEC 60079-0.  If things go according to plan, we should have this next edition published at the turn of the year.

Later, in November, it is the meeting of Cenelec TC31 in Brussels.  Because most of the technical work is done at IEC level, we have not had a European meeting for some time, relying on correspondence to formally pass the IEC texts for use as EN documents.  The secretariat has prepared the additional European Annexes and Foreword for the documents. 

With a change in the secretariat arrangements since the start of this year, we are looking forward to being more active, possibly forming European views on some of the international developments, prior to submitting comments to IEC as standards are developed.  There do remain a few European only standards under the control of Cenelec TC31, mainly for the specialist subject of electrostatic paint spraying, but one standard up for review at the moment is EN 50381 from 2004, for Transportable Ventilated Rooms.  In many respects, there is now an overlap between this and IEC 60079-13, which is being updated at IEC level and should be published soon, but there remain aspects in the EN standard that apply particularly to the “transportable” situation and are worth keeping and bringing up to date.

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