Did you know you needed explosion-proof accessories for your walkie talkies operating in a hazardous environment?
Ignition risks are prevalent in many working sites. These threats are common in industries like petrochemicals, maritime, and manufacturing. When operating in an environment with explosive materials in the atmosphere, safety precautions should be taken when using any form of electrical equipment, including two-way radios and radio accessories. One sure-fire way to safeguard your employees from workplace hazards is to ensure that all electrical equipment follows safety standards for the environment in which it will be used.
- Did you know you needed explosion-proof accessories for your walkie talkies operating in a hazardous environment?
- What does Intrinsically Safe Means?
- Intrinsically Safe Classes, Divisions, and Groups
- What does that Mean for you?
- Are Your Radio Accessories Intrinsically Safe?
- Other Considerations
- ATEX-certified Two-Way Radios
- Audio Accessories
What does Intrinsically Safe Means?
Intrinsically safe devices are engineered and guaranteed not to produce a spark or emit an electrical charge when dropped or marred Intrinsically Safe is also often referred to as “explosion-proof”.
During normal operation, electronics can generate small arcs or heat, both of which could be used as an ignition source in the right circumstances. Nevertheless, if you work in an environment where small sparks can trigger large explosions, such as a natural gas refinery, this will have direct impact on you and your employees/co-workers’ safety.
Intrinsically safe devices must be used in this situation. By restricting the energy available for ignition, Intrinsic Safety (IS) is an accepted protection level for the safe operation of electronic equipment in explosive or hazardous locations. In practice, this means that a device labelled as “Intrinsically Safe” isn’t able to produce enough heat or spark to ignite an explosive atmosphere.
Manufacturers do this by taking many factors into consideration in the design process, such as internal sparking reduction or elimination, component temperature regulation, and component spacing elimination which could otherwise result in short-circuit due to the accumulation of dust. The system undergoes a series of tests that include varying internal failures. A device can only be certified intrinsically safe if it passes the ignition test with these forced failures.
Intrinsically Safe Classes, Divisions, and Groups
The IS classification of a device is made up of three parts: Class, Division, and Group, and the right combination depends on your working environment. Here’s how the classification formula works.
The equipment’s class is determined by the type of industry it will function in:
1. Class I: Combustible Gases, Vapours, or Liquids (Oil / Gas / Petroleum)
- Division I: Ignitable concentrations of gases, vapours, or liquids may exist majority or half of the time under normal operating conditions.
- Division II: The presence of ignitable concentrations of gases, vapours, or liquids is unlikely under normal operating conditions.
- Class II: Flammable Dust Particles (Food Industry; Starch, Grain Processing, Heavy Engineering; Iron Ore / Magnesium / Coal)
- Division I: Where combustible dust is or may be suspended in adequate amounts to create explosive or ignitable mixtures continuously, intermittently, or regularly under normal operating conditions.
- Division II: When combustible dust is suspended in the air due to infrequent malfunctions of handling or processing equipment; but an inadequate amount of dust is present.
- Class III: Combustible Flyings and Ignitable Fibres (Flax Processing Plants / SawMills / Textile Mills)
- Division I: Handling, manufacturing, or use of readily ignitable fibres or materials that generate combustible flyings such as carbon fibres, rayon, cotton.
- Division II: Where readily ignitable fibres not in the manufacturing stage are stored or transported.
Groupsrefer to various types of atmospheres that range from A to G.
- Group A: Includes acetylene-containing atmospheres.
- Group B: Contains butadiene, ethylene oxide, hydrogen (or gases or vapours similar to hydrogen in terms of danger level – produced gas is a good case in point), or Propylene Oxide.
- Group C: Atmospheres containing acetaldehyde, cyclopropane, diethyl alcohol, ethylene, hydrogen sulphide, or unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) or other gases or vapours that are as hazardous as the aforementioned gases or vapours.
- Group D: Acetone, acrylonitrile, petrol, ammonia, benzene, benzol, butane, ethylene dichloride, gasoline, propane, propylene, styrene, vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride, xylenes, or other gases or vapours of similar hazard.
- Group E: Atmospheres comprising combustible metal dust, such as aluminium, magnesium, and industrial alloys of these metals, as well as other metals with similar dangerous properties.
- Group F: Carbon, black, coal, or coke dust-laden atmospheres fall under this category.
- Group G: Atmospheres containing flour, starch, grain dust, or other dust with similar harmful properties.
From a safety perspective, it is extremely important to take these environments into account when utilising communication devices and two-way radio accessories.
What does that Mean for you?
Since December 31, 2015, radio manufacturers had stopped manufacturing products that meet FM 361-1988 requirements. On IS devices/batteries, the FM approval mark was replaced with a UL approval label. The approval status of FM licensed radios in the field has maintained (given that repairs are done at an FM audited site).
Motorola continued to market FM battery and accessory replacements. The UL-certified devices are eligible for use in the same areas as those covered by the previous FM certification. Keep in mind that your existing/old FM radios, batteries, and accessories do not work with UL equivalents.
Are Your Radio Accessories Intrinsically Safe?
If your radios are intrinsically safe, then your accessories must be as well. Remember that traditional electronics including two-way radios and their accessories produce heat that can trigger a spark. Any piece of equipment in the communications system must be certified as inherently safe before use in hazardous environments.
Using intrinsically safe devices or accessories isn’t just for the sake of the employees’ and business’ wellbeing. Since IS two-way radio works at a lower voltage than standard radios, there can be compatibility issues with the headset or speaker mic that your team member is using. In addition to safety threats, they may encounter significant performance issues, which can diminish their communication efficiency.
There’s also the issue of price. IS gadgets, such as IS radios, can be considered more premium. This is something to keep in mind when considering whether to rent or purchase two-way radios. You should also consider the possibility of bottleneck and downtime if you purchase non-compliant accessories.
Some work sites require headphones with hearing protection and two-way communication. If you buy non-intrinsically safe headsets by accident, your operation can come to a halt while in the process of ordering in new equipment and returning the non-IS equipment. The staff are wasting time and resources each day that they remain idle at work, creating a bottleneck in the work process.
That being said, if you are interested in acquiring any intrinsically safe communication devices’ accessories, we have them to offer:
ATEX-certified Two-Way Radios
From an oil rig to an open mine, employees face threats from explosive gas and combustible dust to toxic vapours on a regular basis. In such high-risk conditions, safe and secure communication is essential. That’s where MOTOTRBO digital radios’ strength and reliability really stand out.
The ATEX gas explosion category ranking for these high-performance portables is top-tier. These two-way radios are ideal for risky jobs involving disruptive noise, long working hours, extreme weather, and hazardous conditions such as flammable dust, explosive materials, gas spills, flammable hydrocarbons, and more.
Enjoy all of the advantages of MOTOTRBO digital technology, including increased power, improved audio quality, and longer battery life. Additionally, ATEX-certified intrinsically safe radios and accessories are available here.
Some of the ATEX-certified accessories that ATTACHE offers include:
Tactical Heavy Duty Headset with Helmet Attachment and Boom Microphone, Includes Volume Control (ATEX) with Nexus Jack
This tactical heavy-duty headset that features helmet attachment and boom microphone lets you hear only the crucial sounds and blocks out distractions.
IMPRES ATEX Active Noise-Canceling Remote Speaker Microphone with Large front PTT and Side PTT (IP67)
The Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Remote Speaker Microphone (RSM) lets you enjoy disruption-free communication in harsh environments. Whether you’re in a noisy oil refinery or in the midst of putting out a fire, you can’t afford losing those crucial seconds of getting your message across smoothly.
HC-1 Helmet-COM Bone Conduction Microphone with Single Speaker (ATEX)
Savox HC-1 headset. Users can easily mount this microphone on most helmet types. It requires a remote push-to-talk unit (RMN5120) or emergency button (RMN5121) ATEX-certified for use with ATEX-compatible radio.
IMPRES 2 Multi-Unit Fast Charger with 1 Display, UK
This multi-unit charger has a compact design for a smarter, more productive workspace. Its design helps you maximise your workspace as much as possible while serving as a charging port for your two-way radio batteries.
IMPRES 2075mAh Submersible Li-Ion Battery, IP67, IECEX/ATEX
This IMPRES 2075mAh Li-Ion (ATEX) Smart Energy battery keeps your radio running during long shifts. Only IMPRES batteries can be charged 150 times more than standard batteries—a 43% increase in charge cycles.
To conclude, we hope that you’ve understood the meaning of intrinsically safe, the different classifications of intrinsically safe, and how it relates to the two-way radio accessories you’re purchasing. The safety of operating in a hazardous area should not be taken lightly as it can result in unwanted accidents and deaths. It’s not too late to make a wise decision to ensure workplace and employee safety. Feel free to reach out to us for more intrinsically safe product recommendations!