Managing Ex Asset Integrity: Electrical Considerations for ATEX Inspections

Many companies do not give adequate consideration to the condition of their electrical installations in relation to potentially explosive atmospheres, especially within older plants. Whilst most are concerned with ensuring completion of their hazardous area ATEX inspections and demonstrating compliance with the DSEAR regulations, ATEX 137 directive and BS EN 60079-17 standard, they tend to ignore or forget electrical testing which should be equally considered to the ATEX inspections (BS 7671-part 6 in conjunction with BS EN 60079-14 section 4.1 General Requirements, HSE 2002, HSE: ATEX and explosive atmospheres).

There are a number of reasons why companies focus upon ATEX inspections rather than having a dual focus on both electrical and ATEX inspections. These may include local, regional or national safety authority drive on achieving ATEX compliance; insurance requirements; organisational policy and safety processes, all of which may prioritise the requirement of ATEX inspections over electrical inspections. In fact, it is apparent within some industries and, particularly, within smaller companies that do not possess the resources to maintain awareness of legislative compliance requirements, that there is a clear lack of industrial awareness in order to demonstrate and achieve compliance for electrical and hazardous area ATEX inspections.

Organisations may conduct a hazardous area inspection and gain a satisfactory result as required by the BS EN 60079-17 standard even though the installation remains non-compliant with the required electrical inspection and verification standard BS 7671 due to outdated certification and condition reports. Moreover, in some situations the installation and verification of electrical systems and overall safety considerations are carried out in-house by the maintenance workforce. The problem may arise that although the workforce is highly skilled and has knowledge of ATEX hazardous area requirements, it may not have complete clarity of the most recent UK amendments to the BS 7671 wiring standard – a valuable tool which is an essential consideration of the electrical risks to new installations, plant maintenance, modifications and for the employees or contractors who install or maintain electrical equipment. The standard provides guidance towards a compliant and a safe electrical installation in line with The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Electricity at Work Regulations 1998. Read More About This White Paper

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