Explosion Proof Lighting: Protecting the Worker and The Public|
Protecting against fire and explosions is a critical part of safety measures in many industrial environments. Explosion proof lighting, intrinsically safe lighting, and explosion proof electrical equipment are all commonly included parts of the comprehensive safety measures implemented to create and provide this protection. All of this equipment is grouped according to specific ratings and standards set forth by regulating bodies defining the specific requirements for particular hazardous use applications.
Depending upon the industry in question, workers are often handling flammable materials and explosive compounds as a part of everyday commercial operations. The constant presence of these materials and their volatile natures adds a considerable amount of hazard to operating in these industrial workplaces, and addressing these hazards is an integral part of industry-specific safety regulations. OSHA addresses the subject of electrical equipment and explosion safety by saying “The use of proper electrical equipment in hazardous locations is crucial to eliminating a common ignition source” OSHA "Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions." SHIB 07-31-2005
Large-scale accidents happen with enough frequency to vividly underscore the importance of protecting against explosions in the workplace, and are the reason for OSHA regulations pertaining to fire and explosion prevention. Some of these incidents have caused alarming amounts of damage and injuries to persons and property not involved in the actual operations themselves as well as to workers, further emphasizing the importance of prevention. In November of 2009, a chemical explosion at a refinery in Utah damaged ten nearby homes, and in 2006, a chemical explosion at a North Carolina acrylics plant caused injuries and fatalities while also damaging nearby homes and churches. In the North Carolina incident, glass and debris was found almost half a mile from the site of the explosion. These incidents and others like them underscore for us the importance of following strict OSHA safety regulations in the industrial workplace to protect not only employees, but the surrounding public as well.
Complying with these regulations is not only a matter of properly training personnel, but of also utilizing the correctly rated equipment for the type of hazardous conditions that are present. Investigations by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have found that on numerous occasions, the use of improper or faulty equipment was an integral part of the events leading up to several serious industrial fires and explosions. Given the fact that most accidents are considered preventable, and that one of the most effective ways to reduce their occurrence is through the use of the proper equipment, it only makes sense that equipment carries all the necessary ratings and certification before approval for use is given. Ensuring that equipment complies with OSHA regulations is fairly straightforward, and selection is simplified by the presence of standardized ratings used to determine a specific piece of equipment's suitability for use in a particular hazardous environment.
An Example of this can be found in Larson Electronics’s Explosion Proof Light - 400 Watt Metal Halide - Class 1 Div 1 & Class 2 Div 1 EPL-HB-400W-MH
The first difference of note between a traditional non-specialized lamp and the explosion proof EPL-HB-400W-MH is its specifications. There is much more here than just wattage and intended uses to consider. You’ll note that unlike typical electrical equipment, this light has included as a part of its description the OSHA ratings it complies with. This is because explosion proof lighting equipment is designed and manufactured for adherence to the specific requirements and regulations outlined by OSHA. It’s these ratings which are the most important factors for consideration of its use in hazardous settings. Rating explosion proof lighting in this way simplifies the process of determining a lamp's suitability for a given hazardous environment and its selection by allowing individuals to simply match ratings with their industries working environment. These ratings are certified by Underwriter Laboratories, further assuring that the explosion proof lamp's construction and manufacturing standards are in compliance with OSHA regulations and will fulfill the legal requirements of a business that requires explosion proof illumination.
In order to achieve compliance with regulations and receive certification, this lamp has numerous specialized features that set it apart from standard lamps. The most important feature of this industrial grade light is that all of the electrical components are sealed inside of its construction. This is the reason why the EPL-HB-400W-MH explosion proof lamp is able to prevent inadvertent ignition of volatile chemical vapors and combustible dust; not only can nothing get inside the unit's sealed construction, neither can anything escape. What this means is that although the internal electronics are sealed from any contact with volatile fumes, the light itself is capable of containing any explosion of its bulb or electronics, keeping sparks or hot electrical components from making contact with the outside atmosphere as well.
The unit is limited to four hundred watts, putting it at the standard limit for explosion proof lights. Four hundred watts is generally the limit for these lamps because of heat produced by the lamp's bulb and interior ballast. Lamps of over four hundred watts have tendency to raise the temperature of the assembly above the levels considered safe for use in hazardous locations, as defined by different ratings, and increases the risk of inadvertent ignition.
As well as heat limitation and sealed construction, the body of the Magnaight EPL-HB-400W-MH lamp is constructed of cast aluminum, which has the benefit of making the lamp's body resistant to creating sparks if struck. The lamp's heat resistant lens is surrounded by a cast aluminum guard, helping to protect against accidental breakage, increasing the lamp's durability. The four hundred-watt halogen bulb creates thirty-six thousand lumens, making this lamp capable of illuminating eighteen thousand square feet of open area. Its sealed construction and electroplated tan paint finish contribute to this lamp's being corrosion resistant, weatherproof, and suitable for wet applications such as marine use.
Taken as a whole, the Larson Electronics EPL-HB-400W-MH is an excellent example of how standards and design reduce the hazards presented by working in the presence of volatile chemicals and dust. By removing potential sources of ignition with the addition of explosion proof lighting, the chances for explosion or fire are greatly reduced and safety improved.In industrial applications, it is not enough that workers be aware of the dangers that accompany working in a hazardous area. Industry has to also provide for precautions and equipment that can reduce the level of the hazard. These additional safeguards in the form of explosion proof lighting and equipment reduce these hazards independent of workers on the floor, providing a dependable level of insurance against the inadvertent ignition that can lead to serious accidents.