When working in industrial confined spaces the provision of air quality is important to personal health – now locate that confined space into an explosive atmosphere and safe ventilation becomes critical to life.
The set of challenges (ATEX Product Certification) and risk of hazards (Explosive Atmospheres) present considerable ventilation safety concerns to the hazardous area industries and confined space workers.
The risk is real.
Confined Spaces Can Be Deadly.
A number of people are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces each year in the UK. This happens in a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant to simple storage vessels.
Those killed include people working in the confined space and those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment. Read Guide.
By Terry McDonald, Expert in Equipment for Explosive Atmosphere
The atmospheric presence of flammable gases or combustible dusts – in tanks, silos, vaults, sewers, shafts, tunnels or basements – means the technical specification, product certification and hazardous area classification of ventilation equipment must be scrutinised.
Demystifying ATEX, the name commonly given to the two European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres and ensuring correctly certified equipment, can be complex and confused. Internet searches are awash with website links to spurious and frankly fake products purporting to be ATEX fans.
For instance, this week, we received a technical enquiry from a leading manufacturer of healthcare products who were evaluating ventilation fans and ducting suitable for confined space working in hazardous areas (ATEX Zones) – the fans were required to be robust and reliable, portable yet powerful but above all Safe & Compliant.
The client had received several offers but had serious misgivings concerning actual product compliance with the ATEX Directive.
Following investigation and basic competitor analysis it was discovered that the fans did not comply to BSEN14986:2017 – this is a specific standard that sets out requirements for design, manufacture, testing and labelling of fans for use in potentially hazardous areas.
Stocked & Distributed by Thorne & Derrick | Exstream fans are the market-leading ATEX fan to provide powerful and portable ventilation in hazardous areas – specified for safe and reliable extraction and ventilation of dangerous gases and vapors in explosive atmospheres with airflow capability up to 7750m3/hr. Both ATEX & IECEx certified to Electrical & Non-Electrical Standards (Mechanical) for Zone 1 & Zone 2 ventilation applications.
It is becoming an increasing concern the amount of ATEX products which are finding their way onto the market place, which in my opinion belong in a scrap yard. Products are being put onto the UK and European market that are dangerous. Possibly, fatal.
Certificates prove compliance with the standards requested by the manufacturer but what if the manufacturer does not seek compliance with all the relevant standards for the product being manufactured? How can a manufacturer claim a fan is ATEX certified if it was never tested or checked for compliance with BSEN14986:2017?
The reality is that some of the components, perhaps the motor and the switch are correctly certified for use in explosive atmospheres, but this does not mean the complete fan unit will be compliant and safe to use.
When making any comparisons to other portable ATEX fans duty-holders must ensure they are certified to both ATEX electrical and ATEX mechanical standards. You should check for compliance with BSEN14986, ISO80079-36 and ISO80079-37.
We are aware of non-compliant ventilation fans in the market place which are less expensive but should be considered dangerous, even potentially killers, if ever used in an explosive atmosphere.
What if the end user or responsible person checking the certificate doesn’t know BSEN14986 exists?
They can’t check for compliance if they don’t know what it needs to comply with.
So how will they know that they are about to buy a non-compliant product and put their plant and employees at risk?
Clients put their trust in manufacturers and 3rd party notified bodies but this trust is being abused by a minority of faceless organisations who only wish to make a quick profit. We have even seen a recent example of a product being sold with a fraudulent ATEX certificate.
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By Thorne & Derrick International