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Training - Competency in hazardous areas

17 July 2013

Both electrical and non-electrical installations in hazardous areas possess features designed to make them suitable for operations in explosive atmospheres, so it is essential that throughout the life of the installations that the integrity of these features are preserved. 

The correct ‘functional’ operation of a hazardous area installation or equipment does not necessarily mean that the safety aspects or special features of the equipment are preserved. 
Electrical (and non-electrical e.g. mechanical), possess special features known as protection concepts that are designed to render them suitable for use in environments such as gases, vapours and combustible dusts. For reasons of safety it is essential that equipment used in systems designed for and located in explosive atmospheres is not affected by incorrect or poor installation practices. To ensure that the safety of any installation is maintained, they must be subject to a maintenance and inspection regime. 
Whilst equipment for explosive atmospheres is designed with protection concepts in mind, it is important to consider that site staff will arguably make the biggest contribution to the integrity of the installation through the correct design, selection, and installation in accordance with the appropriate standards and other documentation and then verified through inspection and maintenance in accordance with standards and manufacturers guidance. 
Competency is key
There are a number of IEC standards used to ensure that installations in explosive atmospheres are installed and maintained correctly, and two of the main standards are IEC 60079-14 (Design, selection and installation) and IEC 60079-17 (Maintenance and inspection). Both these standards identify the required levels of competence for staff working in explosive atmospheres and specify the knowledge, level and competencies expected of the persons who have an influence on the integrity of the installation. 
What are the common routes to competence? 
1 The CompEx scheme. CompEx is a robust way to prove competence as it combines the verification of knowledge and skills into a single course through written examinations and practical assessments. CompEx is recognised across most industry sectors were competent personnel can take their CompEx qualification with them from job to job. 
2 Bespoke courses. Using Intertek’s qualified experts is a focused way of meeting a specific company’s requirements through a tailored course. 
Intertek has licensed CompEx Centres and operates from Chester and Grangemouth in the UK, and internationally in South Africa and the UAE.

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