Blog: atex approvals
Short and sweet update.
Deprag have updated their POWER LINE of air motors. Especially the motors in the 1.6 to 6.0kW range. The big news is that there are now 12 ATEX approved motors with planetary gearboxes and IEC flanges. 4 of those ATEX approved motors have a working speed at or close to 1500rpm, so these motors will be able to directly replace an electric motor provided the flanges match up.
The best news is that the new motors are cheaper than the old range and in many cases more powerful!
Whenever power tools are going to be used, the usual safety equipment is required such as goggles, gloves, safety shoes and ear protection the cutting of metal in hazardous areas or for long periods of time also requires additional safety considerations.
Risk of explosion:
When a tool is going to be used in a potentially explosive or hazardous area, it is not good enough to just use a "non sparking air tool". When a risk assessment is done on any tool going into a hazardous area the basic question to ask is what is the maximum surface temperature of the tool, the blade and the material to be cut? If explosive gases are present, what is the ignition temperature?
Most operations will not have the facilities to rigorously test a tool's maximum surface temperature. All of our air hacksaws are tested according to the European ATEX approvals. This means that the tools have been independantly tested and have a coded approval marked on the tool showing the temperature class tha the tool is suitable for and what environment it is tested for (eg explosive dust or gas, industrial or mining areas).
Depending on how the saws are used, exposure to vibration levels has to be considered. This is especially important when the saw will be used non-stop for more than half an hour. During shut down periods in the oil and gas industries, as well as in production environments it is not uncommon for air hacksaws to be in constant use for 8 hours or more.
Many tools have high vibration levels and according to European regulations cannot be used for more than an hour without a break. Exceeding these vibration exposures can lead to vibration related injuries that take years to develop and are among the leading compensation claims in the EU.
Most low cost tools do not even state vibration levels, so a risk assessment should be carried out on the tool to determine whether using it for prolonged periods poses a risk to the operator.
All of our tools have their vibration levels clearly declared in their manuals and catalogues. From these levels you can easily determine how long the tool can be used before the operator has to take a break. If you would like more information on the vibration levels of our tools, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Cheap copies of our saws are on the Australian market. Besides being lower power, quality and life expectancy, they normally do not have ATEX approvals nor do they state their vibration levels.
Air tools and air motors are still assumed to be safe for use in explosive environments and in underground mines, but are they really? How safe is “safe”?
The simple answer is yes, in general air tools are safe for use in hazardous areas, but not always. Many types of cutting & grinding tools are not safe no matter what type of motor they use – for example grinders. Other tools like drills, hacksaws, impact wrenches and air motors are widely considered to be safe. The issue is how safe are they really?
Depending on the cutting speed, some drills and air hacksaws are not safe for use in hazardous areas at all. Also the quality of the motor and it’s components can lead to overheating of the bearings.
Some gases and dusts can explode at very low temperatures, for example carbon disulfide can ignite at 90 degC.
So what temperature does the air tool or air motor run at?
Do all air powered motors run at the same temperature?
Of course of course they don’t.
ATEX approvals were introduced in the EU to certify the safety of equipment that is going to be used in hazardous areas. All tools and equipment that have ATEX approvals are marked with a code that identifies:
- Which zone the equipment is safe to be used
- What temperature range the tool operates
- If the tool is suitable for operations where explosive gas and/or dust is present
- Whether the tools is safe for underground or general industrial use
ATEX approvals clarify whether or not an air tool or air motor is safe to use in a particular hazardous area thereby avoiding assumptions about safety that can lead to serious injuries or catastrophic explosions.
Our Undergound mining impact wrenches are also ATEX approved for use in underground coal mines.