Why engineers in project management should consider an ATEX Route Map
23 May 2017
Health and safety is paramount in project management. Due consideration of ATEX should be given right from the commencement of a project. Too often, organisations only think of ATEX halfway through a project and sometimes not until orders have been placed on new equipment.
This can result in non-compliant process equipment or expensive retrospective design work. In this article, we describe how an ATEX Route Map approach can be used to help project managers navigate their way through a typical project where ATEX applies.
The ATEX Directives comprise two EU directives relating to equipment and activities located in an explosive atmosphere. The ATEX Directives are transposed into national regulations in Ireland as follows:
The EU published guidelines on Directive 2014/34/EC in April 2016 and these are available at the EU website. For the Directive 99/92/EC, the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) issued a guidance document on the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 Part 8: Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work.
The life cycle of projects can be illustrated in the figure below. We can simplify most projects into three main phases:
- Engineering and procurement: This step involves the engineering work associated with a new project. Depending on the project, design can be done by either the organisation itself or by an approved design contractor or by a vendor. Vendors are likely to be the designers for specialised package equipment.
- Construction and installation: The parties involved in construction and installation will vary from project to project. Normally, the equipment vendors may be responsible for plant installation. However, organisations may engage approved construction contractors to work with and supervise the installation works.
- Commissioning and operations: Commissioning is often carried out by organisations in conjunction with vendors.
- Engineering and procurement
Where hazardous atmospheres prevail, the design should avoid potential ignition sources. As a basis for determining the extent of the protective measures, hazardous places should be classified in term of zones according to the likelihood of occurrence of explosive atmospheres in accordance with the relevant standards such as IEC 60079-10-1 and IEC 60079-10-2.
The selection of equipment for Zones 0,1 or 2 and Zones 20, 21 or 22 is regulated by EC (Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations, 1999. Equipment refers to both electrical and non-electrical equipment. Engineering should provide sufficient measures in the design to mitigate against the detrimental effects of an explosion so as to ensure the health and safety of operators. Where necessary, the design should include measures to prevent the propagation of explosions.
Where hazardous atmospheres are present, the design should avoid potential ignition sources. In accordance with the requirements of ATEX, equipment must meet the requirements for the hazardous zones in which they are located. The project manager must ensure that all the required documentation relating to ATEX compliance is in place. The main activities in ATEX-related projects are illustrated in the figure.
- Construction and installation
Responsibility for construction and installation will vary from site to site and may depend on the project capital value. For packaged equipment, vendors may be responsible; for larger projects, a construction contractor may be appointed to oversee/supervise an installation.
In all cases, a project manager should co-ordinate installation activities in accordance with health and safety regulations. The project manager is responsible for receipt verification and installation verification of ATEX-rated equipment.
During installation, the following tasks are required to be carried out:
- Prepare as-built drawings and update the ATEX register of equipment;
- Check the availability of ‘special conditions of use’ and record that any ‘special conditions of use’ have been applied at installation, where necessary;
- Complete relevant ‘installation verification check sheets’;
- The electrical resistance of the protective conductors of each circuit should be noted and recorded, and the fault loop impedance should be measured and recorded for each circuit;
- For instrumentation, check that the relevant intrinsically safe (IS) cable calculations are complete.
Receipt verification and installation verification should be carried out by suitably competent personnel and the inspection records should be maintained on file. Project managers may need to ensure that installation personnel are sufficiently competent as per IEC 60079-17. This standard states that inspections shall be carried out only by experienced personnel, whose training has included instruction on the various types of protection and installation practices applicable to hazardous area classification.
- Commissioning and operation
Responsibility for commissioning will vary from organisation to organisation but the commissioning team will usually involve the operations team, the project manager and relevant vendors. The project team should develop and agree an Installation, Training and Commissioning plan. A summary of the commissioning activities and snagging lists should be documented and maintained on file.
The following tasks are necessary upon completion of an ATEX-related project:
- As built drawings should be completed and the site master drawings updated as required;
- The site register of ATEX equipment should be updated;
- ATEX signage should be erected as required by the regulations;
- Operations personnel should be trained on how to operate new plant.
After project handover, operations personnel are usually responsible for the safe operation of plant. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 Part 8: Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work, sites are required to have in place an Explosion Protection Document.
If flammable materials or combustible powders are likely to be present as part of a new engineering project, then it is likely that ATEX is relevant. Project managers need to consider the relevance of ATEX at the earliest possible stage of a project. Once ATEX is deemed relevant, an ATEX Route Map approach can be most helpful. The principal benefit of an ATEX Route Map is that it provides an aide mémoire to project managers on what tasks relating to ATEX need to be carried out throughout the life cycle of a project.
The tasks documented in a typical ATEX Route Map can easily be integrated into existing project tasks. e.g. user requirement specifications can be extended to address ATEX, existing procurement documentation can specify ATEX equipment and inspection and test plans on a site can be extended to incorporate ATEX equipment. The competence of personnel, particularly those involved in installation work, may require extra attention to satisfy the latest IEC standards.
Richard Coffey CEng MIEI is a senior consultant in the Environmental Health & Safety Department of PM Group. PM Group is a major engineering and construction management company with clients from the biopharma, food, energy and healthcare sectors. The group is headquartered in Ireland and has operations in the UK, Poland, Singapore, India and the US.