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If you think safety is expensive, try an explosion

31 October 2008

Could you afford a disaster?
The cost of dealing with the aftermath of an explosion is unthinkable, both financially, legally and in terms of human life. So why aren’t more companies switching to compliant vehicles and equipment instead of taking such huge and unnecessary risks?

A range of flameproofed equipment that can be bought or simply hired
A range of flameproofed equipment that can be bought or simply hired

Since the 30th June 2006 when the ATEX Directive 1999/92 EC Directive also known as ATEC 137 came into force, there are still companies resistant to making the necessary changes on the basis of cost. But, if safety seems expensive, what would the cost of an explosion or accident be? It only takes three constituents, an oxidiser, a hazard (gas or vapour) and a source of ignition to cause a devastating explosion. Eliminating the oxidiser (the air) is not possible, but investing in equipment to limit, wherever possible, the chances of the gas or vapour being in touch with an ignition source is.

Are you at Risk?
A wide range of industries are at risk from flammable gas, vapours, powders and dusts. Companies that produce, store or distribute flammable materials are all aware that there is a risk of an explosive atmosphere being generated during a normal working day. The consequences of ignition may be disastrous, resulting in loss of life and the destruction of a site.

When it comes to hazards associated with gas or vapours, working areas are classified into zones as follows:
Zone 0 identifies an area where there is an explosive atmosphere present continuously or for long periods.
Zone 1 classifies an area where an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.
Zone 2 identifies an area that is not likely to have an explosive atmosphere during normal operation and if this does occur, it will persist for a short period only.

For hazards associated with powders or dust particles, areas are categorized as Zone 20, 21 and 22 by similar definitions. Diesel and electric industrial vehicles are required to work in these areas but are a potential source of ignition. For example, from arcing and sparking components, hot surfaces, ingestion of a gas into the diesel engine causing overspeed or release of sparks and flame from the inlet or exhausts system. These sources of ignition may be eliminated by effective explosion protection.

ATEX 1999/92/EC stipulates that all products intended for use with these areas must meet the requirements of the ATEX 94/9/EC Directive, also known as ATEX 100a and 95. This Directive categorises equipment according to the level of protection.

The Solution
MAP Plant, part of the Anderson Group of companies is the one of the first plant hire companies to provide equipment that is equipped to work in such areas. Working with explosion protection specialist Pyroban, MAP has a range of diesel and electric industrial vehicles and every single component within these vehicles has been assessed to ensure it is never a potential source of ignition.

Not only can MAP ensure that any piece of equipment is ATEX compliant but they can also fit Pyroban’s Gascheka system for additional safety to the rental equipment in order to provide detection of flammable
gas or vapour.

The Benefits
By working with MAP, companies have the peace of mind that the equipment that they are hiring or buying is compliant with current legislation and as such, serving to reduce the risk of a fatal explosion. In addition, contrary to popular opinion, they are also benefiting by reducing both short and long term costs.

Ann Harding of MAP explained: “By ensuring that the right type of equipment is available for use in both zone one and two areas, it saves on time, costs and productivity. Without compliant equipment available for building jobs in a zone one area, it would be essential to firstly shut down the zone one area entirely and then unload the building equipment outside the area and bring it in manually. That takes time, and therefore slows down productivity and increases labour costs. What is more, the cost of shutting down a zone 1 area is often astronomical, costing companies millions. So, failure to invest in compliant equipment ends up as a false economy all round – legally, financially and in terms of the cost of human life too.”

MAP offer a range of equipment that can be bought or simply hired. The most recent additions are their new tractor which hooks trailers to the back automatically and the first ATEX Zone 1 Telescopic Forklift which has
already been supplied to key oil refineries in the UK.

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