Untitled Document

Intrinsically Safe Two-Way Radios - Who Needs them and Why?

Post Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hazardous Operating Environments

There are certain hazardous operating environments and jobsites that are prone to combustion, where the presence of a spark or heat could potentially ignite an explosion. Atmospheric particles contained in oil and gas refineries, coal mines, chemical processing plants, some manufacturing plants, grain elevators, etc., are hazardous. With little provocation, particles can burst into flame, combust or ignite. 

While two-way radio communications are critical for productive operations and worker safety in these environments, precautions need to be exercised when using any electrical device to minimize the risk of equipment becoming an ignition source.

How are Intrinsically Safe (IS) Radios Built to Prevent Sparking?

To prevent a catastrophic event, protect lives, infrastructure investment and revenue, you need to employ intrinsically safe (IS) two-way radios and accessories. An intrinsically safe portable radio is designed to regulated standards while still offering all of the features and performance of a non-IS model. To be designated intrinsically safe, a radio must be designed and housed to prevent (or completely eliminate), the possibility of generating even a tiny spark. Protection enhancements include:

• Fully encapsulated battery circuitry to prevent electrolyte ingress

• Use of anti-static material for the battery case

• Internal sparking or overheating prevention measures

 • Stored energy limitations in the radio circuitry; IS surge clamp

• Component and conductor spacing to prevent short circuit caused by dust or atmospheric contamination

What About Batteries?

Furthermore, batteries used in IS radios must be specifically designed to prevent sparks and eliminate short circuiting. Any accessories used in combination with an IS radio (microphones and headsets), must be designated intrinsically safe.

Equipment Certification, Regulations, and Standards

The National Electrical Code (NEC), Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) govern standards and regulations defining hazardous locations by means of Class, Division and Group. 

Equipment certification is conducted by approved and Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories. Any equipment that has been certified as intrinsically safe must be labeled according to its class or area where it can be used. Labels must include, at minimum: Class, Division, Group, Maximum Safe Operating temperature and any other special conditions that must be observed for safety. Table 1 produced by NEC, identifies the Class, Group and Divisions associated with hazardous materials.

NEC Hazardous Material Classifications

CLASS GROUP DIVISION (NEC ARTICLE 500)  
CLASS 1 (NEC ARTICLE 501) DIVISION 1 DIVISION 2
Flammable
Gas,
Vapors &
Liquid
A. Acetylene
B. Hydrogen, Butadiene, etc.
C. Ethylene, Ethyl Ether, etc.
D. Propane, Acetone, Ammonia, etc.
In which ignitable concentration of
hazards exists under normal
operation conditions and/or where
hazard is caused by frequent
maintenance or repair work or
frequent equipment failure.
In which ignitable concentrations of
hazards are handled, processed or
used, but which are normally in closed
containers or closed systems from
which they can only escape through
accidental rupture or breakdown of
such containers or systems.
CLASS II (NEC ARTICLE 502)    
  E. Metal dusts
F. Carbon dusts
G. Other dusts: flour, grain, wood, plastic,
chemicals
   
CLASS III (NEC ARTICLE 503)    
Ignitable
Fibers &
Filings
No specified groups. Types of materials: rayon,
cotton, hemp, cocoa fiber, jute, istle, oakum,
Spanish moss, etc.
   
SAMPLE "IS" LABEL

the label above identifies the Division #, Class and Group ratings.

Rating information on equipment can also be colour coded. Data sheets, brochures and specifications provided by the manufacturer will also indicate IS rating. This information can also be found on the radio manufacturer website. Prairie Mobile Communications carries a breadth of IS rated two-way radios and accessories to satisfy Class 1, 2 and 3 requirements.

To find out more about Intrinsically Safe two-way radios and accessories, please call or send an email to your Prairie Mobile Communications Radio Sales Consultant:

   Phone   |    E-Mail
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