To say a piece of equipment is compliant means that every detail has been checked according to the applicable codes, certification and manufacture specification. This is sometimes seen as dragging out the process but really, we are ensuring that every detail is correct, compliant and the equipment is safe for operation. The devil’s in the detail, and the lack of detail is the risk that many operations continue to expose themselves to.
Any hazardous areas audit, is a systematic and critical examination of the installation, equipment, its operation and safety systems.
To say a piece of equipment is compliant is to say that:
• The installation has been correctly classified
• The equipment selection is correct
• The equipment has been installed as per the certificate of conformity and/or manufactures specifications
• Accessories and terminations comply, have been done correctly and, where relevant to a correct torque
• Equipment has been electrically tested and deemed safe
• The inspector is trained, competent and authorised
Currently there are two states (Queensland & Victoria) in Australia which the state government requires electrical installations in hazardous areas to be inspected/audited.
In Queensland the Electrical Safety Regulations 2013, Section 221 requires that an accredited auditor inspects electrical installations in hazardous areas prior to connection or reconnection to a source of electricity if:
• The installation is being connected for the first time
• Electrical installation work has been performed on an electrical installation within a hazardous area
In Victoria the state government regulations require hazardous area installations be inspected by a Class H Licensed Electrical Inspector.
Although not legislated in other states, it is still good practice to have the installation audited. This is not done to delay completion but to allow another set of qualified and experienced eyes to ensure the finer details have not been overlooked. These overlooked details can be common when the personnel completing the project construction/ installation are also responsible for the compliance audit process.
Another problem that can arise is when the person(s) in charge of the area do not understand the risks, or their obligations when it comes to hazardous areas. In these instances when auditors do get called in to audit the installation they are usually faced with a barrage of questions and can be seen to be holding up the process. This is usually because they feel they (the person(s) in charge) have had competent people design, install and commission their equipment, unfortunately this is not always the case.
Additionally, the installers and engineers are apprehensive and sometimes defensive when details are found that should have been picked up well before the final Audit. But this shouldn’t surprise us when the volume of learning for the hazardous areas course is ~780hrs and it is delivered in five days across Coal, Dust & Gas, which suggests we are not getting the basics right.
Keep It Simple
Auditing is the process involving systematic examination of a system. Developing this process and following it is critical to ensuring the plant and equipment is compliant, safe and no details are missed.
To simplify a complex process, the following solution has been developed to audit hazardous areas and if followed gives the Auditor confidence that all details have been confirmed.
Legislation & Standards
The legislation that are imposed by the state and federal governments is what drives us to do what we do.
For hazardous areas, the relevant Acts and Regulations fit very definitely into two areas:
1. Underground coal mining and
2. Other industries.
For both areas the Occupational Health and Safety Act of the various states may be the overarching legislation.
Additionally, each Act may have a set of associated Regulations and provisions for these Regulations are generally made in the Act. Regulations are generally drawn up by the department administering the Act.
In Queensland the purpose of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 is:
Division 2 Purpose of Act
(1) This Act is directed at eliminating the human cost to individuals, families and the community of death, injury and destruction that can be caused by electricity.
(2) Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to establish a legislative framework for—
(a) preventing persons from being killed or injured by electricity; and
(b) preventing property from being destroyed or damaged by electricity.
The Act calls the Electrical Safety Regulations 2013 where the purpose of the regulations is to ensure that the equipment is electrically safe. But depending on the industry (Petroleum & Gas, Mining etc) they all have their own legislation to which they need to comply. The responsibility may be spelt out in the Act, or in associated Regulation, or in a document called up by the Act or Regulations.
AS/NZS 3000 wiring rules is called up in legislation or contractually in each State/Territory of Australia and its requirements are therefore mandatory.
From the wiring rules Section 7.7 specifically deals with hazardous areas where
Section 184.108.40.206 Responsibility for classification states:
The responsibility for classification of a hazardous area rests with the
persons or parties in control of the installation. The requirements are
contained in AS/NZS 60079.10.1 for gas or vapour and AS/NZS 60079.10.2 for combustible dust.
So, if you have been asked to Audit an installation, before rushing out there and getting your hands on the equipment, ensure:
1. The equipment owner actually requires an audit to be performed
2. The equipment owner understands their responsibilities and obligations
Don’t be fooled though that the legislation will change the outcomes of the audit, it won’t as the physics and chemistry behind explosive atmospheres do not change.
220.127.116.11 Hazardous areas (AS/NZS 60079 series) states:
For the purposes of classification, two types of hazardous area are as
(a) Hazardous area (gas or vapour) in which an explosive gas atmosphere is present, or may be expected to be present, in quantities such as to require special precautions for the construction, installation and use of
1 Hazardous areas are divided into zones based upon the frequency and duration of the occurrence of explosive gas atmospheres.
2 Explosive gas atmospheres include flammable vapours (from liquids).
(b) Hazardous area (dust) in which combustible dust in the form of a cloud is present, or may be expected to be present, in quantities such as to require special precautions for the construction, installation and use of
1 Hazardous areas are divided into zone based upon the frequency and duration of the occurrence of explosive dust atmospheres.
2 The potential of creating an explosive dust cloud from a dust layer.
3 Combustible dusts may include fibres and flyings.