There are different standards and schemes implemented throughout the world to ensure the safe and compliant installations for electrical equipment in hazardous areas.
In the early 1990’s it was seen that certification organizations were not offering consistent and efficient services to hazardous areas. They were not responding to the needs and difficulties of exporting to different countries or the needs of governments confronted with the challenge of importing safe products.
The 1980’s and early 90’s had difficulty with the existing certification organizations to provide any consistent services, as they were confronted with a maze of differing standards and regulations across countries, and on some occasions, different regions of the same country.
In the early 1990s, industry involved in hazardous areas requested to the IEC to provide a forum to discuss the creation of an international system. This system would provide manufacturers with a single structure where testing and assessment would only need to be conducted once and would be accepted by all members of the system.
In 1996 the IECEx was established and with support from certification bodies in the UK, France, Canada and Germany.
In 2002 the European Union decided to create the ATEX directive, known as ATEX 95, to allow the free movement of goods throughout the EU by harmonising the technical and legal requirements for products that will be used in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Directive 99/92/EC, known as ATEX 137, was also created to ensure that workers enjoy a minimum level of protection from potentially explosive atmospheres by covering safety and health protection of employees.
This directive places duties on the employer and should demonstrate that explosion risks have been determined and assessed with hazardous areas, ensuring that:
- Hazardous areas are classified into zones.
- Appropriate management systems should be in place including –
- training of workers
- control of work
- The workplace and work equipment including warning devices, should be designed, operated and maintained with due regard for safety.
Each country within the EU uses regulations as the base requirement for the directive, in the UK the requirements under this directive are implemented in the ‘Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations’ (DSEAR).
The CompEx Scheme is the recognised Global Competency Scheme that is used by the major oil and gas and other chemical industries in a systematic approach to protect their workers and ensure capital assets remain compliant and safe in a high-risk industry.
Australia has its own Certification scheme that is based on the IECEx scheme whereby both are accepted schemes.
The ATEX directive is not accepted in Australia which limits international opportunities.
Australian personnel working in the hazardous areas industry are limited to working on Australian projects in alignment with the competencies that are required for Australian projects and work.
The workforce in the compliance department at Bluefield AMS has had extensive work on major oil and gas projects not only in Australia but also worldwide throughout the USA, Asia and Europe.
Most Australian personnel deemed competent in the field of hazardous areas will have competencies under the ANZEx Electrotechnical package competencies.
Some Australian expats have managed to achieve the basic installation and inspection modules (Ex 01, Ex 02, Ex 03, Ex 04) under the CompEx scheme allowing them to install and maintain Electrical systems installed in hazardous areas outside the shores of Australia.
Bluefield not only has these basic competencies but is also in the unique position of having capabilities to design electrical systems to IECEx or to the ATEX directive by holding CompEx Ex 12 competencies. This gives them the ability of not only installing and inspecting Ex certified equipment but also designing the entire electrical system globally, an achievement that very few Australian companies can boast.
Bluefield prides themselves in being able to offer hazardous area services worldwide and having knowledge in competencies for hazardous areas in a global market.
Our areas of expertise
- Appointed Hazardous area auditing (Electrical Safety Office)
- Category 3 dust and gas hazardous area auditors
- Hazardous area classification
- EI 15
- API RP505 /API RP500
- BS 5908
- Design of electrical systems
- Installation of Ex certified equipment
- Inspection of Ex certified equipment
- Maintenance management programs
- Dossier creation/building
- Safety systems
Their experience extends from (but not limited to)
- Type “B” gas appliances
- surface coal mining
- underground coal mining
- Organic dust plants
- On shore gas drilling and processing
- Off shore gas drilling and processing
With Bluefield’s capabilities and highly experienced team, we can now assist with a vast array of complications and obstructions faced by companies in any hazardous area related issues on a daily basis on a global scale.
We pride ourselves on being able to provide practical solutions with timely and efficient resolutions for a compliant and safe workplace from classification and design to the commissioning and final auditing prior to energisation with an ongoing support network to maintain the highest level of efficiency for your plant.