There are still many users of motors in hazardous environments who are unaware of recent changes to the ATEX regulations themselves, and to the standard that covers the repair of these motors, says Keith Hargreaves, regional director, ERIKS Electro-Mechanical Services.
There have been two recent legislative changes that have important implications for users of motors in ATEX-zoned environments. The first is that new zones have been defined - zones 20 to 22 - that cover environments where dust may be present in such concentrations as to constitute an explosion risk.
This means that many more manufacturing processes, such as the milling of flour and the processing of paper, are now likely to fall within the scope of the ATEX 137 Directive 1999/92/EC guidance section 4.6 maintenance, which is defined as repair, servicing and inspection of Explosion equipment. Companies operating in industries, such as petrochemicals, where the hazardous areas have always been an issue will cope with the changes easily, but companies that are affected for the first time by the ATEX legislation are likely to need additional guidance and support.
The second change is that IEC 60079-19, the international standard that applies to the repair of electrical equipment for use in hazardous environments, has been updated from the original 1993 edition to a new 2006 edition. The new standard incorporates many changes, such as alterations in the recovery methods allowed for flame paths, and the verification of the recovery processes. Skill tests for the persons carrying out these processes are also included for the first time.
There are even changes to the scope of the standard, that now covers ´equipment´ not simply ´electrical apparatus´ and there are new definitions for ´repair to certification´, that includes full repair and re-certification, and ´repair to standard´, that covers only a basic repair to ensure that the requirements of the original equipment certified design or when this not available, the applicable manufacturing standard, are maintained.
Few end users, especially those in smaller companies, would claim to have the competence in house to decide whether repaired equipment for use in hazardous areas met the appropriate standards. The solution, therefore, is to use a repair organisation that can take on this responsibility.
It is unsurprising that there are many repairers that are not in this position, as the training required for their employees is extensive. Prior to the introduction of the changes to the standard, training typically took the form of a seminar to give an appreciation of the tasks and risks involved.
Now, the training is a five-day course, during which the trainees must demonstrate their practical skills, followed by an examination. To pass this examination, the trainees must have a thorough knowledge of electrical and mechanical standards, and the principles behind the techniques that are used to ensure the safe operation of equipment in hazardous areas. Furthermore, they have to demonstrate on-going involvement in the repair process [of the equipment] to maintain their accreditation and submit their repair activity to assessment by an independent body.
The training organisation chosen by ERIKS UK to ensure that its staff are fully competent is assessed and certified by SIRA Certification which, as the UK´s notified body for ATEX product certification, clearly has an exceptionally high level of relevant expertise and experience.
The expanded scope of the ATEX regulations and the changed emphasis on responsibilities means that end users should, in all cases authorise and approve modifications, repairs and reclamation of equipment. As we´ve seen, however, many lack the necessary skills and competencies to undertake these duties.
For them, by far the most satisfactory option is to give their consent for a qualified repair organisation to take over their responsibilities. In doing so, however, they must be absolutely certain that the repair organisation that they select is itself properly qualified and certified. Should they fail to do so, they run a very real risk that, in the event of problems, the responsibilities they sought to delegate will land right back on their own doorstep!
For further information on this article and related products and services, please contact your local ERIKS service centre on 0845 006 6000 or click here to find your local service centre.