What is a hazardous area?
In Australian worksites there are strict standards for determining what is considered a hazardous area. Essentially, a hazardous area is described as any worksite where there may be a fire or explosion risk due to the presence of flammable gases, vapours, mists, dust or fibres. Several standards govern the safety protocols used in these areas, but there are two in particular that relate to the use of electrical equipment in these spaces.
- AS/NZS 60079.14: Explosive atmospheres – Electrical installations design, selection and erection
- AS/NZS 60079.17: Explosive atmospheres – electrical installations inspection and maintenance
These standards outline the precautions that must be taken to ensure a safe working environment that reduces the risk of fire or explosion. Naturally, harsh penalties apply for non-compliance.
Industries at risk
There are many industries that may operate partially or fully in hazardous areas. It’s important to note that any business or industry can have a hazardous environment, however, some of the common ones at risk are:
- Gas manufacturing and processing plants
- Hospital operating theatres
- Cement manufacturers
- Bio-gas and fuel plants
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Printing plants
- Breweries and distilleries
- Flour mills and industrial bakeries
- Saw mills
This list is far from exhaustive, however, it’s worth noting that all use weighing equipment in some way, shape or form.
What is an explosion-proof scale?
An explosion-proof scale is required in hazardous areas in order to comply with Australian Standards. Basically, these scales are approved for use in hazardous areas, as they are designed to limit the risk of fire or explosion.
These scales are made to contain sparks and explosions. While you may not think a scale is capable of emitting sparks or causing explosions, they are just like any other type of electrical equipment.
An explosion-proof scale is built so that the circuits and wiring are isolated from potential hazards, such as gases or combustible dust.
Why use explosion-proof scales and weighing equipment?
There are two major reasons for the use of explosion-proof scales, and each is of equal importance.
Naturally, businesses have a responsibility to keep their workers safe at all times. If your staff are working in hazardous areas where flammable gases, combustible dust or other vapours are present, there’s already an increased risk of fire or explosion. Workers have a right to feel safe at work and know they are protected against avoidable injury and harm. Using explosion-proof scales is just one of many ways to ensure the safety of your staff.
The other reason is also intrinsically linked to safety; however, the key word is compliance. There are numerous Australian Standards that exist to protect workers who operate in hazardous areas, and the electrical components are just a few of them. Businesses can be penalised with heavy fines if found to be non-compliant with Australian Standards, particularly when the safety of staff is at stake. To ensure compliance with national standards, explosion-proof scales are essential.
If your business requires assistance in meeting health and safety regulations, we’d love to help you out. National Weighing and Instruments can provide scales that are safety-rated for hazardous environments. Contact our team today, and we can discuss your requirements.