Reducing Risk in Hazardous Areas
Preventing explosions is commonly done by eliminating one of the three elements in the triangle of fire. Some manufacturing sites can eliminate either Oxygen or Flammable Material, but in most cases, it is easiest to eliminate an Ignition Source. Common Ignition Sources can be electrical sparks, hot surfaces, or electromagnetic fields.
Intrinsic safety (IS) is a protection technique for the safe operation of electrical equipment in hazardous areas by limiting the energy, both electrical and thermal, available for ignition. When electrical equipment is used in hazardous areas, there are different regulations concerning equipment manufacturing and safety that reduce the ignition source risk. Many of these regulations are local to specific countries. Manufacturers must adhere to these regulations and provide the appropriate level of protection depending on the classification of the hazardous area. Materials ignite at different temperatures. Mitigation of risk depends on the hazardous material and the manufacturing application taking place in the hazardous zone.
It is important to understand area classifications and associated zones to determine the level of protection required to reduce the appropriate level of risk. These zones are dependent on whether the flammable material is gases or vapors, dust, or another type of material.