One of the New Approach Directives, which is dedicated to equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres is ATEX Directive 94/9/EC. These directive contain the essential requirements in the scope of health protection, safety, environmental protection and they are addressed mainly to manufacturers and distributors of certain products.
In areas where there is the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence, ATEX USERS Directive 1999/92/EC regulates the tasks of those who are responsible for the organization and management of workplaces containing those areas.
In the Polish legal system, act applicable to the ATEX USERS Directive 1999/92/EC, which implements its provisions, is the regulation the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace.
Both the Directive and the Regulation implementing it in the Polish law contain certain requirements which need to be met by the employer. These include:
- Explosion hazard assessment
- Explosion risk assessment
- Explosion protection document
The content of the Regulation makes reference not only to the provisions concerning the essential requirements for the systems and devices, intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX), but also to other legal acts related to explosion safety in the workplace.
The ATEX pre-audit for compliance with the requirements of the ATEX and ATEX USERS directives, in regards to the Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] No. 138, item 931).
The result of the audit is a report related to the current state of explosion protection which determines and indicates further steps in the evaluated area. The report also contains an indicative timetable for implementation of tasks.
According to the Regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration dated 7 June 2010, regarding fire protection of buildings, other construction facilities and terrains (Dz. U. 2010 No. 109, item. 719), in facilities and adjacent areas, in which technological processes are carried out using materials that can form explosive mixtures, or in which such materials can be stored, the explosion hazard assessment must be performed. In accordance with the above-mentioned Regulation, during performing the explosion hazard assessment, the following must be included: specifying rooms in which hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur, hazardous areas classification (including drawings illustrating this classification) and specifying the potential ignition sources.
The aim of explosion hazard assessment is identification and characterization of explosion hazard in technological areas of industrial facilities or exclusion of such hazard, due to the flammability and explosibility parameters of applied materials, in reference to parameters of ongoing operations and processes.
The developed explosion hazard assessment facilitates proper selection and installation of equipment with the objective of its safe use in this environment, taking into account the type of zone, explosion groups and temperature classes.
The hazardous areas classification should be performed at the design stage.
The explosion hazard assessment may also be part of the risk assessment, on the basis of which an explosion protection document is prepared – as referred to in the Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace (Regulation implements ATEX USERS Directive 1999/92/EC).
In a work environment in which due to reasons arising from the characteristics of the workplace, equipment or substances and mixtures being used, an explosive atmosphere may occur, should be performed a comprehensive assessment of the risks associated with the possibility of this occurrence, i.e. to perform analysis and assessment of explosion risks (§ 4 paragraph. 4. of Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] No. 138, item 931).
In accordance with the above-mentioned regulation, the analysis and evaluation should take into account, among others, operated installations, substances and mixtures being used, processes and their interactions, the probability and time of occurrence of explosive atmospheres in certain places, the probability of occurrence of effective ignition sources and the extent of the anticipated effects of an explosion.
The results of the explosion risk assessment are the basis for the decision to adopt a particular concept of explosion protection.
Under the Regulation of the Minister of Economy, in order to prevent explosions and provide protection against their effects, the employer should use the appropriate technical or organizational protective measures in accordance with the type of business being run.
In determining protective measures the employer must ensure that the specified objectives are implemented, in the following order: preventing the formation of an explosive atmosphere, preventing the ignition of an explosive atmosphere, reducing the harmful effects of an explosion in order to ensure the health and safety of workers.
Explosion risk assessment is an important element of the Explosion Protection Document.
The requirement for a risk assessment and preparation of explosion protection document, concerns companies which work with flammable substances may promote the formation of hazardous explosive atmospheres and cause an explosion hazard in the workplace.
The explosion protection document should be based on the results of the risk assessment of the possibility of explosive atmospheres occurrence (§ 7 paragraph. 1. 1. Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] No. 138, item 931).
In accordance with the above-mentioned Regulation, this document shall include, in particular:
- Description of the protective measures to be taken in order to meet the requirements specified in the above-mentioned Regulation and to reduce the harmful effects of an explosion,
- The list of hazardous areas together with their classification.
The Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, known as the ATEX Directive, defines the essential requirements of safety and health protection related to the construction of explosion-proof electrical equipment. The safety of technical equipment, which can cause an explosion through their own sources of ignition, cannot be compromised during installation, operation or repair. The key issue is the elimination of the risks of a possible explosion, which could cause a major accident, which in turn could be a threat for the local community and the environment.
Reliable and safe operation of the equipment depends largely on respecting the principles of operation of explosion-proof equipment and the competence and skills of staff responsible for the operation, maintenance, inspection and repair. Equipment properly selected and installed in accordance with regulations, standards, and manufacturer’s recommendations, should not pose a threat when operated in a proper manner.
Electrical equipment located in hazardous areas should be operated on the basis of special operating manual, developed in accordance with the regulations, standards, the manufacturer's recommendations (operation and maintenance manual) and dedicated to individual objects or installations characterized by the occurrence of identical or similar threats.
The obligation to develop the operating manual was introduced by the Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 17 September 1999, on occupational health and safety of work with equipment and power plants. (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] No. 80, item. 912) / revoked from March 2013/.
Currently valid is the expose of the Minister of Economy dated 28 March 2013, which specifically indicates that the operating manual should include:
- the characteristics of the electrical equipment,
- the necessary scope, a description of automation systems, measurement, indication, protection and control systems,
- a set of drawings, diagrams and charts with descriptions compliant with the appropriate nomenclature,
- a description of activities related to the start-up, handling during the operation and stoppage of power equipment in normal operation of given device,
- rules of conduct in case of failures and disruptions,
- requirements for maintenance, repair, overhaul of power equipment and schedule for carrying out inspections, tests and measurements,
- the requirements of occupational health and safety and fire regulations for specific group of electrical equipment, facilities and qualification requirements for people involved in the operation of these devices,
- identification of hazards for human life and health as well as the environment, associated with the operation of electrical equipment,
- organization of operational work,
- requirements for individual or collective safety measures, assuring protection, communications and other technical and organizational protection measures applied in order to reduce occupational risks, hereinafter referred to as "protection measures".
The ASE Technical Analysis Department has developed many operating manuals for electrical equipment installed in hazardous areas, solving thereby issues of the Customers. In each case appropriate organizational or technical solutions were proposed.
The developed operating manuals are primarily designed for people involved in conducting operation of electrical equipment in hazardous areas, company executives, professionals, persons holding functions of supervision, as well as for the operational staff carrying out work, maintenance and repair of electrical explosion-proof equipment.
Implementation of the operating manual almost always is related with organizational difficulties, particularly in terms of planning and the evidence of records from inspections of equipment. The system supporting the operation of equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres: Inspector-Ex, developed by the specialists of ASE is very helpful in this matter. Further information about Inspector-Ex can be found at: http://inspectorex.pl
Ensuring the safety of workers in workplaces, where hazardous areas are classified, results from the obligation of meeting the requirements of the applicable regulation of the Minister of Economy dated 8 July 2010, on minimum requirements for health and safety at work, related to the possibility of an explosive atmosphere occurrence in the workplace (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] No. 138, item 931). The employer must prevent ignition of hazardous atmospheres, also due to potential electrostatic discharges. Explosion protection also applies to workplaces where persons are carrying out work over short periods of time or perform inspection activities.
The aim of the Manual is to exclude the following risks caused by static electricity:
- explosion resulting from the possibility of ignition of explosive atmosphere by electrostatic discharge,
- adverse effects on humans, e.g. electric shock as a result of electrostatic discharge.
For the purposes of hazard analysis we offer the procedure, suited to the characteristics of the plant processes, used to evaluate and eliminate threats of fire and explosions caused by static electricity.
Thanks to the applied proceedings the developed manual can indicate:
- processes causing electrification,
- places in which the formation of static electricity occurs ,
- threats caused by static electricity ,
- measures required to protect against adverse effects of static electricity.
Due to the fact that the ESD protection must include besides of technical measures, also workers behavior, the Manual contains indications concerning the methods of performing hazardous works. It also contains an analysis of the process of human electrification that may occur during work.
To help the staff in maintaining measures protecting against static electricity, the Manual contains indications to perform periodically visual inspections, measurements of preventive protection against static electricity, as well as the scope of documentation for which the end user of plant should have access to.
The main objectives of the ESD protection are the prevention of fires and explosions and electric shock of employees as a result of electrostatic discharge. The way to achieve this is to use a proper protection against static electricity and appropriate working methods that do not cause discharge of static electricity. In order to ensure the effectiveness of ESD protection, it must be implemented at all levels of preparing and conducting technological processes.
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection Manual is one of the organizational means allowing to improve the safety of personnel and allowing the company to meet the legal requirements imposed on the end user of plant.
The Department of Technical Analysis performs a number of typical analyses and other studies aimed at, for example:
- review of existing and designed technical means of fire and explosion protection measures for compliance with the applicable regulations and standards,
- process safety and functional safety audits in terms of fire and explosion protection,
- analysis of design documentation provided in the framework of the overhaul projects in the field of fire and explosion protection of existing installations,
- analysis of design documentation provided in the framework of the investment projects in the field of fire and explosion protection for newly constructed installations,
- verification of hazardous areas classification and implementation of changes in the Explosion Protection Document for existing installations,
- hazardous areas classification and development of Explosion Protection Document for newly constructed installations,
- expert opinions on the existing operating manuals of the installations exposed on the risk of explosion,
- development of operating manuals for the installations, at which the hazardous area classification will be changed,
- expertise and measurements in the field of electrostatics ,
- maintenance of equipment located in hazardous areas,
- verification and development of Safety Reports,
- verification and preparation of documents related to the Safety Report,
- employee trainings,
- other works and services concerning technical advice on issues related to technical and industrial safety.