By Wayne Perry
In the past, seeing the term “Hazardous Location” usually meant that the equipment being requested was destined for a chemical plant, refinery, or drilling platform. Today, we are seeing hazardous locations in sugar mills, grain storage facilities, and anywhere there may be flammable liquids, gasses, or dust present. Hazardous areas are defined as areas where the presence of flammable gases or liquids, combustible dusts, or easily ignited fibers exist in sufficient concentrations to cause a fire or explosion, provided a source of ignition. These areas range from portions of a room to whole plant sites.
Partly due to this expanded use of the classification system, specifiers are increasingly citing requirements for equipment suitable for use in classified areas. When properly used, the hazardous area classification system makes for a safer work environment. Too often, however, hazard classes are specified without concern for the significantly higher design and procurement costs they bring. In many cases, an open mind and a little ingenuity can avoid excessive costs for compressors and other equipment, without compromising safety.