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All You Need to Know About Hazardous Area Training

by Era Inventions
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I wish the world were a truly peaceful and safe place. But, in reality, our planet is such a perilous, and shall I more aptly say hazardous place! According to the conventional definition, a “hazardous” area is more often described as “an area that is likely to be dangerous, and extra precaution will be needed to be taken, especially if it is a working environment”. A hazardous area could also be defined as an area that has elements like flammable gases, vapors, combustible dust, mist, and a lot of electrical equipment (Well, a forest could even be described as a hazardous area especially if it’s rife with poisonous snakes, scorpions, and other deadly critters!). In this article, we will take you through the basics of hazardous area training, as well as the safety measures that are required for operating in risky work environments.

What Exactly is a Hazardous Area?

In the exciting, yet equally challenging field of electrical engineering, a hazardous area is often defined as “an environment which consists of any concentrations of flammable vapors, gases, mists or combustible dust (along with all the risky electrical equipment).

Where these elements or items are present, all the electrical tools and equipment installed in such an area are specially designed and tested to meet a wide array of requirements which altogether ensure the safety of all personnel, and avoid all potentially deadly situations which result from the equipment or material’s reaction to its surroundings.

These potentially risky and life-threatening situations involve the activities and/or processes of production, transformation, delivery, and stocking of flammable materials or substances which can potentially produce explosive environments.

Whether the application is in a chemical or petrochemical plant, mining, oil, gas, food processing, or grain handling setting, when these flammable and potentially explosive materials or substances come into contact with the oxygen in the air, they can create a truly dangerous and life-threatening atmosphere. And, if this atmosphere or environment is ignited, then the ensuing explosion or conflagration can provoke serious damage to the environment, and the people within it. This is where adequate hazardous area training comes into play.

The Typical Hazardous Areas in Various Industries

The common locations or areas of hazardous areas include the following: Liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, paint manufacturing facilities, sewerage treatment plants, distilling plants, wharves, warehouses, and offshore drilling rigs.

These, and the other, environments are all areas where hazardous, life-threatening gas vapors may be present, and this necessitates the need for appropriate hazardous area training for all the personnel working there.

However, many companies and industries do not even realize that their workplaces are also considered hazardous. For example food and beverage manufacturers, plastics factories, flour mills, recycling operations, and grain handling and storage. In these areas, dust could be the leading safety issue, along with the presence of toxic and hazardous gases and vapors.

What Type of Hazardous Training is Required?

Without exception (and I mean it), every individual who intends to work in a hazardous area or environment needs to be appropriately trained and competent in hazardous area training. In essence, whether the individual is involved in the installation, maintenance, or design stage, they should be fully able to demonstrate the competency to ensure the utmost safety measures are practiced or implemented. 

In the Australian work setting, Standards Australia serves as the country’s leading independent, non-government, and non-profit standards organization. As the representatives of the ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, and the IEC, or the International Electrotechnical Commission, Standards Australia are hailed as the specialists in the creation and adoption of internationally-aligned standards in Australia.

The purpose of standards development, not just in Australia, but in every country on the planet, is to offer industry stakeholders a range of pathways to develop and/or update new or existing standards (Like occupational and workplace safety standards among others). And to participate in the development and adoption of a wide array of international standards.

For each and every standard, the organization brings together key stakeholders and parties to form technical committees to develop a wide array of standards for each and every industry niche.

With stronger standards in place, the country can enjoy better economic efficiency, as well as have increased prominence on the global stage. The various standards also help support local communities by creating a safer and more sustainable environment. 

Thus, any individual who plans or intends to work in what’s classified as a hazardous area or location will need to be properly, and fully educated in hazardous area training, before they can start the job.

It doesn’t matter if you’re involved in the design, installation, maintenance or whatever stage, there is a strong need for competence if only to ensure that the highest standards of safety are being observed.

All the equipment should also be handled by those who have gone through, and passed, all the required hazardous area training, and must be able to demonstrate great, or shall I say exceptional, ability and expertise in the endeavor. The individual should also make it a point to ensure that they are continuously being trained, or updated, with the new safety regulations, especially when working in hazardous environments.

And, since people are the weakest link in most safety chains (Well, I admit that, because I’m such a clumsy person), the appropriate hazardous area training, one that’s conducted by a licensed and veteran instructor or company, should help to minimize the accidents that are caused by human error in hazardous work environments.

And, if your company installs, maintains, repairs or inspects manufacturing or chemical plants, oil and gas rigs and other facilities, or employs technicians, electricians or auditors to work in hazardous environments, then make sure that all of you get the appropriate hazardous area training from highly experienced and professional trainers. By doing so, will you will constantly be reminded, and trained, of all the standard safety practices on a regular basis.

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