A summary of requirements for selection of electrical equipment for use on hazardous sites oriented towards suppliers of portable electronic equipment.
During the reviewing of this document we identified a number of possible issues relating to the interpretation of such a heavily technical document. One of the major issues was that the technical nature of the regulations makes it look like we are trying to police the workplace.
We as vendors are simply offering advice; if the client already has foreign certified equipment and he is happy to use it then that is not an issue for the vendor. Our aim is that as radio industry professionals we give correct advice.
NOTE: Not all areas are hazardous even where fuel or chemical are involved, some chemicals and products like diesel are not considered explosive. Hazardous/explosive areas are often relatively small and usually highly controlled. In an airport for example the only normally applicable hazards are around aircraft re-fuelling points, not the entire tarmac. Hence your engineers, baggage handlers, catering staff and maintenance staff generally don’t need certified equipment (confirm this with the client, site rules vary significantly).
A customer may be using foreign certified equipment which may not immediately look to be correctly certified. There are a multitude of reasons for this which may not be immediately apparent to the vendor and it does not mean that it is unsafe. Foreign certified equipment does not have higher failure rates; it is simply not what is defined in regulations in Australia. Customers may have already done risk assessments on this or had it approved by other means.
We are not here to fix the client’s site hazards or change his/her way of working. We only want to avoid giving incorrect advice. The key seems to be to ask questions of the client,
+ “Does your site have any identified hazardous areas?”
+ If so “What are your site hazards?” He/she may have predefined site requirements, a hazardous area classification drawing or a list of hazardous materials: whatever the answer then this document will help you understand the needs and correct protection levels required for the equipment you offer.
+ “What are you preferences for levels of protection on electronic equipment?” If the client doesn’t know then this document will assist you in advising correctly.
The other issues we are trying to solve are:
+ If you have equipment and you don’t know if it is suitable for a specific hazard.
+ If you sell foreign certified equipment, don’t panic many clients will still accept and there are methods of having this accepted on some sites.
The important factor here is that the customer understands what they are accepting or you might find they blame you when the equipment proves unsuitable.
This document will not provide you enough information to re-evaluate the client’s hazardous area classification, that is a very specialised field. It will also not give you sufficient knowledge to change risk assessments or equipment categories. You need to work with what the customer gives you and this document is intended to show you how to interpret the information provided by the customer and give him professional sound advice on product selection.