What does it mean to be Intrinsically Safe?

What does it mean to be Intrinsically Safe?

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Why Intrinsically Safe?

Worldwide, strict regulations exist for equipment used in explosive and hazardous atmospheres.
All equipment intended for use in a hazardous location must pass stringent certification testing
to determine in which HazLoc zone(s) it may be safely used. Intrinsic safety ratings differ
significantly from country to country - a device that is certified intrinsically safe for use in the
United States may not be certified in Europe or elsewhere. And just because a device is rated
intrinsically safe does not mean it can enter into any zone - each intrinsically safe device can
only be used in the specific hazardous environment for which it is approved.

In North America, hazardous locations are categorized into classes and divisions, with Class 1
Division 1 being an area that is expected to contain explosive mixtures of gases, vapors, or
liquids during normal working operations. Class 1 Division 2 areas are those where flammable
liquids and gases are handled but are not normally present in explosive concentrations, though
an accident could make such concentrations possible. Class 1 Division 2 areas may contain
explosive gases that could escape from adjacent C1D1 areas.

Outside of North America, hazardous locations are divided into classes as well as zones, with
Zone 0 being the most explosive area in which ignitable concentrations of flammable gases or
vapors are always present or present for long periods of time. Zone 1 areas likely, but do not
always, contain concentrations of flammable materials. Flammable concentrations of gases are
not likely to exist in Zone 2 areas or may occur only for short periods and are hazardous only
under unusual circumstances.

Why is Intrinsic Safety important?

Not everyone works in the comfort of an office. So many industries require personnel to work
safely within hazardous environments. They must be able to take their tools and information
systems into these environments to efficiently complete their tasks. Keeping a workforce safe is
an integral part of any workplace.
Until now, companies have been required to invest heavily in complex IT solutions that require
specialized devices and software solutions to achieve goals. Some of these solutions are a
‘first-time-fix,’ where a problem or inspection is completed during the first (and only) visit to the
location.

With the right tools, like Windows-based intrinsically safe tablets, companies can greatly reduce
their software investment by allowing their mobile workforce to take existing Windows
applications into hazardous environments. Such tools reduce the cost of deployment and
ownership, opening efficiency and savings by deploying into areas not previously thought cost-
effective.

However, mistakes could be catastrophic. Simply put, if a device enters the wrong zone of a
hazardous environment, it could put your employees at serious risk of injury.
Using a Zone 2 device in a Zone 1 area, for example, the electric current and/or the thermal
characteristic of the device could cause a spark, igniting flammable material that is present in
the air as a result of repair work, maintenance or leaks.

A C1D2 device entering a C1D1 area also poses a hazard because explosive concentrations of
flammable materials that are present may be ignited. However, devices approved for highly
explosive areas (Zone 1 or C1D1, for example) can be used in lower-risk areas (Zone 2 or
C1D2) where concentrations of flammable materials are not as likely to be a threat.

Selecting the correct device is essential for avoiding fire or explosion in environments that
maybe hazardous. Failure to do so can result in loss of production, revenue and customer
confidence potentially costing billions in capital. Devices approved by ATEX or IECEx for Zone
1, or those approved by UL for C1D1 areas, are certified to be incapable of igniting a spark, and
therefore incapable of causing a fire or explosion when used in the appropriate atmospheres.

By purchasing the correct device, personnel can share information in real time, even in the most
explosive zones of industrial operations. With improved connectivity, organizations can increase
productivity, lower risk, and positively impact their bottom line.

If you are unsure what type of device you need, ask Aegex by sending an email to: [email protected]