WHAT IS A HAZARDOUS AREA?
A Hazardous Area is a location in a manufacturing plant, storage area, tank farm or similar industrial facility where there is a risk of explosion and/or fire due to the nature of the materials handled there. These materials can be flammable or explosive or both and can include hydrocarbons such as Acetone or Methane, as well as seemingly "safer" materials such as iron dust, coal dust or grain. These places are also referred to as "classified locations"
What is different about Hazardous Areas? Why should we bother?
The risk of a fire and/or explosion in a hazardous area (classified location) is much higher than a non hazardous area. We therefore need to take several steps that include engineering as well as operational measures to prevent accidents and disasters in these places. These are carrying out a hazardous area classification of the location (that divides the area into different zones such as Zone 0, Zone 1 or Zone 2 for liquids and vapors and into Zone 10, Zone 11 and Zone 12 for dusts and fibers). Note that the concept of Zone is from the CENELEC standards (later incorporated into the IEC standards) and is different from the Division Concept (Division 1, Division 2) that is in the National Electric Code (NEC) in the NFPA standard.
After this, we need to ensure that only those equipment that are suitable to be used in that particular area is allowed to be operated. So for example an Electric motor that is suitable for use in Zone 2 only, cannot be used in Zone 1 and so on. Note that these restrictions apply not only to electrical equipment but also to electronic instrumentation too. If your plant or facility is in the European Union (EU) then you need to also comply with the ATEX directives and ensure that the mechanical equipment too is suitable for the particular hazardous area where it is being used. These directives are not just guidelines, they are law and if you do not abide by them, you would be breaking the law.
When operators of this unit shown above use Personal Protection Equipment such as helmets, gloves or safety shoes, they are following principles of Occupational Safety.
What kinds of protection methods are used in hazardous areas?
There are many ways to protect equipment in hazardous area from causing fires and explosions. These are called as protection methods and could be explosionproof, flameproof, intrinsic safety, pressurization, purging, increased safety, non-incendive and so on. There are other engineering methods to protect mechanical equipment as well, especially those that fall under ATEX. Additionally you also need to implement strict administrative controls in these places, such as carrying out a gas test before issuing a permit for hot work, not allowing stuff like matches and lighters into these areas and so on.
Both the engineering controls and administrative (management) controls together will ensure that your hazardous area will not be the scene of the next disaster.
Are Hazardous Areas only present in places like Oil platforms or petroleum refineries?
No. Although one might think that hazardous areas are only prevalent in the process industry (such as Oil & Gas, Chemicals, etc), in reality they exist in many other locations as well such as grain silos, food processing plants and coal handling facilities to name just a few. Recently there was a dust explosion in a factory that made aluminum alloy wheels for automobiles. So you can be sure that hazardous areas go beyond just the hydrocarbon processing industry. You need to do a risk assessment for your workplace if you believe that it may have places that could come under the definition of a hazardous area.
Abhisam has online courses, workshops & consulting services that cover hazardous areas, as well as other topics such as Process Safety, Occupational Safety, Functional Safety, Automation systems, IoT, Big Data and Cybersecurity. On this page, we will be only discussing Hazardous Area Instrumentation, Hazardous Area Classification, Intrinsically safe systems, ATEX and related topics . You can explore other pages of the Abhisam site to get more information on HAZOP, LOPA, Hazardous Area Classification, Industrial Cybersecurity, Personal Protective Equipment and similar related subjects.
We have the following Online Courses/E-learning courses related to Process Safety. Each of these courses consist of several modules that have text, animations & simulations, graphics, assessments, examples, real life case studies that help you become a professional. You can complete them from the comfort of your home or office or anywhere else. You can either take them online over the internet (Online version), or download it to your Windows PC (when you buy the Standard version). On passing the associated exam, you can get qualified as a professional, earn an electronic certificate with a unique ID number and a badge issued via Credly, that can be added to your Linked In Profile or other places online such as email signatures. This displays your qualifications and competencies to your colleagues, peers, bosses and potential employers and clients.
Hazardous Area Instrumentation
Abhisam's Hazardous Area Instrumentation e-learning course is a unique software based training course that covers everything about hazardous areas that an Instrumentation, Automation, Control Systems or Electrical Engineer should know.
Starting from basic concepts it covers the entire gamut of topics and will give you a rock solid understanding of what you need to do. The course consists of the following modules:
a) Basic Concepts
b) Area Classification, Material Classification & Temperature classification
c) Standards (IEC 60079 series as well as NFPA/NEC)
d) Methods of Protection (covering all methods including explosionproof, intrinsic safety, pressurization and more)
e) Fieldbus in Hazardous Areas
f) Certification & Labeling
g) Inspection & Maintenance
h) Self Assessment Test. To get this course or to find out more please click here.
Hazardous Area Classification
Hazardous Area Classification is one of the first steps to be carried out if a location has been deemed to have the presence of flammable or explosive vapors, gases or dusts.
It should be done carefully to avoid either underclassification (could lead to unsafe conditions) or overclassification (could lead to cost escalation). It covers the following topics:
a) Basic Concepts
b) Properties of Materials
c) Standards for Hazardous Area Classification (covers both CENELEC/IEC and NFPA)
d) Carrying out a Hazardous Area Classification (with detailed steps)
e) Practical Case Study
f) Common Myths about area classification
g) Self Assessment Test
To know more about this course, please see here.
Intrinsic Safety (Coming Soon)
Intrinsic Safety (IEC Code Ex-i) is one of the best methods to ensure protection in hazardous areas. However, it is applicable only to low power systems such as Instrumentation, Electronics, Automation & Control systems. Implementing an Intrinsically safe installation is completely different from implementing other protection methods like explosionproof. The philosophy is totally different.
This self learning software based training course is the easiest and fastest way to learn this subject at your own pace. This course consists of the following modules.
1.Introduction to Hazardous Areas
2. Basic Concepts of Intrinsic safety
3. Zener Barriers
4. Galvanic Isolators
5. IS Standards & Practices
6. Fieldbus applications using IS
7. Labeling, Inspections & Maintenance
8. Self Assessment Test
For more details about this, please see here.
Hazardous Area Mock Test (free)
Take this free Hazardous Area Mock test to know how well you understand hazardous areas. You can also use it as a practice test before taking any certification exam related to hazardous areas or attending an interview, where you may be expected to know about hazardous areas.
For details please refer here.
Understanding ATEX (Coming Soon)
If your plant or facility is located in the European Union, then you are legally bound to follow the ATEX Directives. This course covers all the requirements that you need to fulfill to comply. This course will have several modules. However you cannot purchase this directly. You can only purchase this after you purchase the Hazardous Area Instrumentation OR Hazardous Area Classification e-learning course.
This course will cover the Workplace Directive, as well as the Equipment Directive.
Learners can complete this course, pass the associated exam and earn a Certificate of Completion, as well as an electronic badge from Credly. Please see here for more details.
Introduction to Hazardous Areas (free)
This free hazardous areas course will introduce you to all the basic concepts that are needed to understand hazardous areas.
The course consists of the following modules:
a) Introduction to Hazardous Areas
b) Properties of materials
c) Self Assessment Test
To get this course or to find out more please click here.
Traditional Classroom Style Training Courses and Workshops
In addition to the above online courses, we along with our associates, also conduct traditional classroom style Training Workshops from time to time in multiple cities around the world. These are offered as public courses but can also be offered as on site training at your location. Our trainers will travel to your location and deliver these programs. They can be customized as per your needs.
1.Hazardous Areas & ATEX Workshop (3 days)
2. Hazardous Area Classification workshop ( 2 days)
You can find more about all our workshops here.
Free White Papers
The following free white papers on Functional Safety, SIL and Safety Instrumented Systems are available on the Abhisam website and can be accessed from the links below.
You can also access informative white papers on other interesting topics here.
The following free videos are on topics related to Hazardous Areas and provide useful information to learn the basics.Feel free to share, like them or embed them wherever you wish.