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Hazardous Areas Defined: Part 1 – Explaining Hazardous Areas

Posted on 27 September 2019

Hazardous Areas Defined: Part 1 – Explaining Hazardous Areas

The following article has been authored by Brad Guy of Bluefield Compliance

Hazardous areas can sometimes appear to be an area of ambiguity and mystery for some. 

This article is aimed at removing the mystery and explaining the basics of hazardous areas by giving some examples of where hazardous areas may be found along with the basic individual requirements. 

Hazardous Areas are centred around electrical installations that may be surrounded by a flammable or combustible atmospheres where precautions need to be taken to prevent that electrical equipment becoming an ignition source and causing an explosion. 

Bluefield is passionate about equipment that operates reliably, at the lowest cost per tonne, and at reduced risk for clients in the mining, gas and transport industries.

The Bluefield specialists assist our clients to overcome the following:

  • Stress that comes from un-reliable equipment
  • Unwanted phone calls from site at night and on the weekend due to unscheduled events
  • Meetings to review maintenance budgets or production targets that are not on target
  • Asset replacement decisions that are not optimal for the business bottom line
  • Risk or uncertainty over asset integrity that could lead to catastrophic equipment failures


Requirements for hazardous areas are found in the IEC 60079 suite of standards. 

The main standards used for classification, design, installation and inspection are: 

  • IEC 60079.10.1 – Explosive Atmospheres Classification of Areas – Explosive Gas Atmospheres 
  • IEC 60079.14 – Explosive Atmospheres Design Selection, Erection and Initial Inspection 
  • IEC 60079.17 – Explosive Atmospheres Electrical Installations Inspection and Maintenance 


According to IEC 60079.14 Edition 5 2013-11, a Hazardous Area is defined as an: 

Area in which an explosive atmosphere is present, or maybe expected to be present, in quantities such as to require special precautions for the construction, installation and use of equipment. 

An explosive atmosphere can be considered as a space that may at some stage through any means, may contain a flammable mixture of gas and air or a combustible mixture of dust and air – also referred to as potentially explosive atmospheres.

This does not consider what is called “catastrophic failure” in the standards, in this contextan example would be the rupture of a process vessel or pipeline and events that are not predictable. It would also apply to failures that cause a release of flammable or combustible material due to lack of, or incorrect maintenance. 


Such hazardous areas can be found in many places throughout the industry in both large and small quantities

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