What It Means to be Intrinsically Safe
If you’ve ever browsed websites or catalogs in search of weighing products, you may have come across equipment labelled “Intrinsically Safe,” or IS. Although the name implies this equipment is somehow safer than its non-IS counterparts, many professionals have a hard time defining and understanding its importance.
We’re here to breakdown what intrinsically safe means, why this type of equipment is necessary, the benefits it can offer, and what type of equipment is available in IS models.
WHAT IS INTRINSICALLY SAFE?
Intrinsic Safety is a design approach used for equipment going to work in hazardous environments. A hazardous environment is an area that can be exposed to flammable gases, vapors or dusts and have the potential to ignite flame or even combust. There are multiple classifications of hazardous areas, as defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), that require appropriately rated equipment such as intrinsically safe scales. Industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical, agriculture and paint manufacturing are often required to use IS products.
The goal of intrinsically safe equipment is to keep temperatures low and prevent sparks from igniting. For instance, IS scales use low power electronics constructed to not generate a spark under any condition.
WHEN IS INTRINSICALLY SAFE EQUIPMENT NECESSARY?
If equipment is being installed in an environment with combustible materials, necessary steps must be taken to minimize the risk of ignition.
However, intrinsically safe components alone aren’t necessarily sufficient for OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Act). OMEGA Engineering, an international instrumentation company, puts it this way, “OHSA accepts IS design as an appropriate approach, although requires that the whole system be designed accordingly. It is not sufficient to just use IS certified components.” There are exceptions to this rule however. For instance, a very low power or passive device that is unlikely to create a spark can be considered a “simple apparatus” and does not need to meet these requirements.
WHAT IS THE BENEFITS OF INTRINSICALLY SAFE EQUIPMENT?
Intrinsically safe weighing equipment offers numerous benefits including from the obvious – safety!
Aside from keeping workers and facilities safe from potential explosions, using IS equipment can help save money. First, the cost of an explosion far outweighs the cost of upgrading to products with IS standards. Second, it avoids the cost associated with having to implement explosion proof enclosures.
Because a business invests in IS equipment, insurance premiums can decrease due to the reduced risk provided by an intrinsically safe approach.
Lastly, any diagnostic and repair work can be executed with continuous production. If production had to be shut down for maintenance, money and time would both be lost as a result.
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE AVAILABLE WITH INTRINSICALLY SAFE DESIGN?
Through our extensive network of manufacturing partners, Grand Rapids Metrology can offer a variety of IS products from Avery Weigh-Tronix, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Minebea Intec, Fairbanks, and A & D Weighing. From indicators, remote displays and barriers, balances, bench scales, platform and pallet scales, our industry-leading product line is sure to meet your specific IS application needs.
If your business is affected by OHSA intrinsically safe regulations, talk to us. We almost 100 years of experience in the measurement industry, we know a thing or two about IS equipment!
Sources: OMEGA Engineering