Hazardous area ventilation: what you need to know

26th April 2019

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Hazardous area ventilation: what you need to know

There are all sorts of working environments around the world where gases and vapours in the air pose a risk to everyone working there. It is essential to maintain an effective ventilation system when working in hazardous environments where the air quality is poor, and the health and safety of operational personnel must always be assured. You cannot afford to drop the ball when it comes to maintenance of the airflow, as just a few seconds of breathing certain contaminants like carbon monoxide can have serious consequences. Similarly, it is not safe to run equipment that isn't fully certified when working in an environment with flammable gases in the air. Ventilation in these environments must therefore be carried out meticulously and responsibly using the correct fit-for-purpose equipment. 

Targeted ventilation solutions

There is a growing trend towards ventilation on demand (VOD) systems, which maintain high airflow only in the areas where it is required. This is more targeted and efficient than a system that ventilates the entire site. It works via sensors that detect the areas where personnel and machinery are working, and then directs the airflow to these areas. Of course, this type of system requires a hefty upfront investment, and has extra maintenance requirements to ensure the sensors are working at all times.

You can achieve the same effect by using portable fans like the SA CYCLONE EX Air Mover, which allows you to configure your product before purchasing to ensure your specific needs are accommodated. It is lightweight and designed for portability, ready to be moved wherever you need to use it. Having the ability to move and reconfigure your ventilation setup when required allows significant savings on power usage - a real bonus when budgets are tight.

Identifying and classifying hazardous environments

The fundamental step is to identify hazardous environments by carrying out processes to detect dangerous vapours and gases. Both toxic and flammable vapours can be present in subterranean areas, and these are what your ventilation fans will expel to render the area safe for personnel. Where flammable gases are present, the ATEX & IECEx certification of the SA CYCLONE EX Air Mover is essential. The process starts with an operative examining the area with a hand aspirator or an electric pump to detect the presence of gases. The main hazards to monitor for are methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide, all of which need to be vented to produce a safe environment.

The safe, comprehensive solution for any situation

When you opt for portable units for ventilation there is no compromise on quality. With ultra-tough, durable construction that is fully certified, you get a solid workhorse that will keep on working as long as you need it to. With lightweight materials, you can easily move and reposition each unit to achieve the optimal setup in any work environment. They are user-friendly and include safety features to minimise the risk of workplace accidents, ensuring your workers can focus solely on the task at hand.

Portable products like the EX Air Mover are ideal for several industries where the air itself can be a threat to safety. There are thousands of miners, offshore workers, utility operatives, shipbuilders, refurb teams and chemical maintenance crews working in environments where there are toxic or flammable substances present in the air they would breathe. Many of these workers need to frequently up sticks and move to a different location with specific ventilation requirements in order to complete their work. With a lightweight, portable fan that is highly robust and optimised for the maintenance of safe working environments, these workers can easily carry out their responsibilities wherever they need to.