Lone Working In Explosive Hazardous Areas

Working in Hazardous Areas

Ex Hazardous Area LogoWorking in explosive areas are obviously hazardous but made even more risky when working alone. What are the best solutions to these dangerous scenarios?

Common workplace hazards like frayed electrical cords, exposed moving machinery parts, loud noises, vibrations, working from ladders, water spillage or other trip hazards etc, can all cause serious health and safety issues for employees.

However in certain industries such as oil refineries or factories, explosive hazardous areas are also a major problem.

What is an Explosive hazardous area?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), when an atmosphere or environment is filled with flammable gases, mists, dusts, liquids or vapours, it will be classed as fire or explosion hazard area. “If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion.”
A simple spark produced by switching on a light switch would be catastrophic in places like this due to the flammable vapour/particles present in the atmosphere. Therefore it’s important to identify some of the major sources of ignition and controlling it, for example: flames, hot surfaces, mechanical machinery, sparks from electrical equipment etc. This also means devices like phones, smartphones and other electrical equipment are also prohibited from entering explosive hazardous areas.

What are the risks to lone workers?

It’s important to provide adequate safety measures to lone workers so that they can raise an alarm if they ever suffer an injury or accident when working alone. However a standard lone worker device or smartphone should not be allowed into these explosive hazardous areas because it’s not intrinsically safe, which means the electronics in the device could ignite a spark.

This is also one of the reasons why you’re not allowed to use a mobile phone/smartphone while refuelling at a petrol station because it’s a potential risk of ignition. In order to work alone in these environments they will have to obtain an ATEX rated device, that’s legally allowed to be used in an explosive hazardous area.

What is ATEX?

ATEX is an EU directive that outlines the type of devices or equipment that’s allowed in an environment with an explosive EX image atmosphere. ATEX is derived from the French word; ATmosphères EXplosibles and has been strictly followed by EU organisations since 2003 to protect employees from explosion risk areas. Manufacture or suppliers have to undergo extensive health and safety requirements in order to certify a product as ATEX rated and once certified it will be marked by the ‘EX’ symbol.

What is the best solution to lone workers?

ATEX rated lone worker device, like the Twig Ex (ATEX), can be used in Explosive hazardous areas as it’s intrinsically safe to ensure that electronics or wiring within the device will not spark or cannot accumulate enough energy to create an ignition. Man Down can be enabled with the Twig Ex (ATEX) which will automatically raise an alarm if the user slips, trips or falls unconscious while working in explosive hazardous area.

The dedicated Red Alert button can also be used to raise an alarm if the user needs immediate assistance, the device will then connect to our 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre and opens up a 2-way audio communication with our fully trained Controllers.

Here at Peoplesafe we can provide assistance on the right use of ATEX rated devices, contact us at 0800 990 3563 or email us at sales@peoplesafe.co.uk for more information.