1. What does intrinsically safe mean?
Any electrical equipment which is ‘intrinsically safe’ s specially designed so that it is not capable, even if faulty, of causing an electrical spark sufficient to trigger an explosion in a flammable atmosphere.
In order to achieve this, safety torches and other equipment are usually encased in plastic, with no exposed metal parts. They have plastic lenses etc., which are virtually unbreakable and are designed so that the electrical circuit is broken before the cover is removed (e.g. for replacing batteries).
All torches and other equipment for use in flammable or explosive areas must be ‘intrinsically safe’ and comply with either national standards for intrinsically safe electrical apparatus or the European norm.
If there is any doubt regarding a torch or other equipment, it should not be used.
- Most rubber- or plastic-encased torches which you can buy in the shops are not safety torches. They must not be used in potentially flammable or explosive atmospheres.
- The torch function on a mobile phone is not acceptable – phones should not be used in any area where an intrinsically safe torch is required.
2. How do I use them?
Safety torches and communication equipment (when used) should be issued to all staff working in places where there is a risk of fire or explosion.
Before you take the equipment into a potential danger area, make sure that:
- it is working properly;
- no parts are loose or missing;
- the batteries do not need replacing;
- only the type of batteries indicated on the certificate of approval issued with the equipment are used; and
- the unit is correctly sealed.
Never attempt to unseal the torch in order to replace the batteries or bulb while you are in a danger area. If you find a fault, leave the area before attempting to repair it, or obtain a replacement which works.
3. Spark-proof tools
If tools are required to be used in potentially flammable or explosive areas they must not be capable of producing a spark. Specially designed tools are available and must be obtained as required.
4. How do I look after it?
Keep all equipment clean, and store them in a cool dry place when not in use. Remove spent batteries from the equipment as soon as possible to prevent leakage and potential damage to the unit.
Remove the batteries from the equipment when it is not in use and store them in a cool dry place. No more than two months’ stock of spare batteries should be held at any time, to keep them ‘fresh’.
Re-chargeable batteries or equipment with rechargeable batteries built in may be used – but the charging port must be sealed with a cover before use.