What Does “Intrinsically Safe” Mean?

“Intrinsically Safe” is a term that generally refers to controlling thermal and electric energy releases within an industrial environment. It’s also a safety term that is subject to government regulation. Your scales and equipment need appropriate certification f to carry the label Intrinsically Safe.

Some industries that require intrinsically safe equipment include chemicals, paints, solvents, mining, and oil refinery. Many flammable gases exist in mines, and oil is a naturally-combustible material. Some laboratories may also require them in the case of scientific experiments. The priority is ensuring that workers don’t get injured in potentially hazardous work environments.


Explosive Atmospheres

Many industrial environments need electricity to manufacture the products they need. The energy required to power a machine best comes from a universal source. While other sources can include renewable energy such as sunlight, wind, or water, not all factories have access to these alternatives. What’re more, they have drawbacks in the short-term.

There is one problem, however; if you’re working with flammable liquids or substances, then there is a risk of fires and explosions. That can both damage equipment and endanger employees. Explosions tend to happen when combustion occurs rapidly and exponentially increases the waste energy in the air.

History can tell you that uncontrolled fires in manufacturing units never ends well, for the businesses or the workers. Government agencies like OSHA will levy fines on the grounds of employee negligence and even prison time in some cases. It also opens up your business for lawsuits from injured parties, which causes further financial threats. You would rather avoid all of these headaches in the long run.

What’s more, working environments may contain highly combustible gasses. If even a spark gets loose, then it can risk turning into a fire or an explosion. You can’t obviously remove the oxygen from an entire environment where workers are participating, so the other option is to reduce the potential for the explosion from other sources of ignition. A system must be designed where within an enclosed device the gas is removed or it will not interact with any electric sparks.

Even without oxygen, other flammable gases exist in certain industries. These include methane, ethylene, hydrogen, and propane. Mineshafts are one such example of work areas where methane is in a huge abundance. If you are weighing ore in such an environment, you want to use appropriate scales that prevent electrical sparks from happening.

History also has proven that you don’t want a large volume of any of these gases within range of humans if there are electric sparks as well; the Hindenburg explosion, after all, happened because an airship filled with hydrogen suffered from combustion. The resulting disaster killed 35 people, including members of the airship’s crew.

Some sediments and dust may also be combustible, which is called “explosive powder”. Some may be on the microscopic level, such as in fuel tanks, but they are still present. You want devices that keep these burning elements away from sparks, even if you have the appropriate filters.

Intrinsically Safe Versus Explosion Proof

Explosion-proof is another term that often comes up when talking about workplace hazards. They are applied to chambers that contain potential explosions within a restricted zone, to ensure that no one else is hurt. Mind that the explosion will still happen but it keeps sparks from interacting with flammable gases within the area.

While all intrinsically safe equipment is explosion-proof, not all explosion-proof equipment is intrinsically safe. There are other methods that can work to achieve the same result and ensure workplace safety. One such method is using pressurization to remove flammable gases from that atmosphere.

“Intrinsically safe” is a more specific term, about reducing the amount of electrical or thermal energy to prevent combustion proactively. The goal is to minimize any potential for ignition, which means that an explosion cannot happen at all. Thus, there are higher standards imposed on the tools used with that label, including scales.

In addition, “explosion-proof” is not subject to the same amount of government standards. Intrinsically safe equipment needs to meet certain certifications to live up to the term, both nationally and internationally because the stakes are higher. Explosion-proof equipment specifically needs to meet ATEX and IECEx for use in European and international countries respectively.

Improve Your Explosion Proofing With Arlyn Scales

Arlyn Scales is ready to help you create a safe work environment with the right industrial equipment. We have scales designed to handle hazardous areas, that will give accurate measurements despite changing temperatures and hazardous substances. We have Instrinically Safe Equipment for manufacturing and laboratory purposes.
Reach out to us today to get started. Arlyn Scales has scales that are capable of withstanding even the most extreme environments. Let us keep your equipment and wiring safe from flammable gases, and give you the means to take charge of a situation proactively.