CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy

CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy


Process Safety – Useful Documentation and Resources

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 in a series of focused blogs.

This is blog number 15 in the series. This week, Danny McSweeney, discusses the useful documentation and resources that can be used to ensure companies are compliant with the legislation mentioned above.

Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007

Seeing as these blogs are focused around ensuring companies are compliant with Part 8 of “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work”, it is natural that this legislation is the most important piece of documentation to be used to ensure a company’s compliance. The full text of the legislation is available for free online. Here 

Additionally, the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have produced a document which gives further guidance in relation to the prevention of occupational accident or ill health resulting from an explosive atmosphere at work. This document is freely available online Here


Engineering Standards: EN 60079

There are a range of engineering standards which relate to equipment standards and safe working practices for explosive atmospheres at workplaces.

One of the key series of standards covering this area is IEC 60079, which are published as a European Standard as EN 60079. These standards are an extremely useful resource when referring to the classification of hazardous areas, and the engineering standards expected within the presence of an explosive atmosphere at work.

While there are over 30 individual standards that make up this series, the three following standards are those which we would most often refer to during our Explosion Safety consultancy work. These are:

  • Part 10: Explosive atmospheres. Classification of areas.
    • Part 10-1: Explosive gas atmospheres,
    • Part 10-2: Combustible dust atmospheres
  • Part 14: Electrical apparatus for explosive gas atmospheres. Electrical installations in hazardous areas.
  • Part 17: Electrical apparatus for explosive gas atmospheres. Inspection and maintenance of electrical installations in hazardous areas.

As can be seen, Part 10 explores how one would go about classifying an area as a hazardous zone. There are different Hazardous Area Classifications (HACs) with regards to gas atmospheres and dust atmospheres; part 10-1 refers to gas atmospheres and part 10-2 refers to combustible dust atmospheres. Part 14 explores the type of equipment required in all different types of hazardous zones, while Part 17 gives guidance on the maintenance of said equipment.

These standards are available for purchase from any of the national standards authorities. The British Standards Institute (BSI) link is here.

Industry-Specific Guidance

While the documentation mentioned above is good for general application, some companies may need industry specific guidance to further reduce the risk of an incident occurring due to explosive atmospheres.

One example of this would be the Energy Institute Model code of safe practice Part 15: Area classification code for installations handling flammable fluids (commonly known as EI 15). It is recognised internationally as being the de-facto guidance for calculating hazardous zone areas in the petroleum industry.

It provides a demonstrable methodology for determining hazard radii, and is applicable to all installations handling flammable fluids. It gives guidance on the classification of regions around equipment handling or storing flammable fluids, and provides a basis for both the correct selection of fixed electrical equipment and the location of other fixed sources of ignition in those areas.

EI 15 is available online for purchase Here.


Another useful resource is the Institute of Gas Engineers & Managers IGEM/SR/25. This is a standard which compliments BS EN 60079-10-1 by providing detailed requirements for the hazardous area classification of permanent and temporary natural gas installations.

It applies to all natural gas installations, although other standards may be more readily applied for installations downstream of an emergency control valve. In general, it will not be less conservative than these other standards and therefore it may be used for any natural gas installation. It applies to liquid free natural gas within specific property ranges. This standard applies to any potential release of natural gas except those that may be caused by catastrophic failure such as rupture of a process vessel or pipeline, component failure and similar rare events that are not predictable.


Other Useful Resources – GESTIS-DUST-EX database

While explosivity data for flammable liquids, vapours and gases can usually be found in their associated Safety Data Sheet, in our experience this is much less common for combustible dusts and powders.

Whilst we would recommend companies undertake testing of dusts/powders as a first preference to gather this data, where this is not practicable, then the GESTIS-DUST-EX database is a very useful and comprehensive source of explosivity data for common combustible dusts and powders.

The GESTIS-DUST-EX database has been collated by German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). It includes combustion and explosion characteristics of more than 7,000 dust samples from virtually all sectors of industry, determined as a basis for the safe handling of combustible dusts and for the planning of preventive and protective measures against dust explosions in dust-generating and processing plants. The database includes information taken from an earlier report – “Combustion and explosion characteristics of dusts (BIA-Report 13/97)”.

The database is freely available and searchable online here.


Maintenance Requirements for ATEX Rated Equipment.

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 in a series of focused blogs.

This is blog number 14 in the series, written by Danny McSweeney, which discusses the maintenance requirements for ATEX rated equipment.


The importance of maintenance of ATEX rated equipment can not be over-stated. It is vital the equipment and installations are suitable maintained to ensure their integrity. Maintenance comprises repair, servicing and inspection, however, the management of the ATEX equipment includes having and maintaining technical documentation, maintenance planning, and having traceability of any interventions. When equipment is not maintained it may not provide the required level of protection in a hazardous zone. Figures 1, 2 & 3 below show typical examples of poorly maintained ATEX rated equipment.

Applicable Standards

The applicable standard to be used as a reference for the maintenance of ATEX equipment is:

  • BS EN 60079-17 Electrical apparatus for explosive gas atmospheres – Part 17: Inspection and maintenance of electrical installations in hazardous areas (other than mines)
  • Other relevant parts of the BS EN 60079 standard that may be required for maintenance of ATEX equipment include BS EN 60079-14 and BS EN 60079-19

Documentation Required

Prior to implementing verification, maintenance, inspection and testing procedures, the following information shall be available:

  • Hazardous Area Classification of potentially explosive atmospheres;
  • Equipment group, category, and temperature class;
  • Records sufficient to enable the explosion protected equipment to be maintained (list and location of equipment, spares, technical information, etc.);
  • Installation drawings as required by ET 101:2008 (National Rules for Electrical Installations);
  • Inventory of explosion – protected equipment;
  • Descriptive system document for intrinsically-safe circuits;
  • Any documentation required by statute;
  • Records from all previous tests;
  • History of inspection and maintenance activities.

Types of Inspection

Initial Inspection

Initial inspection takes place during the installation of apparatus. It is stated in BS EN 60079-17 that no equipment shall be put into service” until an initial inspection has been carried out and all significant points addressed. Adequate documentation should be provided to record said inspections. All electrical apparatus, systems, and installations undergo an initial inspection before they are brought into service. Initial inspections must also be carried out on any modifications of equipment.


Sample Inspection

Sample inspection refers to the inspection of a proportion of the electrical apparatus, systems, and installations of a piece of equipment.

Periodic Inspection

Periodic inspection refers to the routine inspection of all electrical apparatus, systems and installations carried out. Every time a periodic inspection occurs, inspectors must fill out a Periodic Inspection Report. The minimum information required in this report is:

  • Details of the Client


  • Standards and regulations applied:
  1. a) ET 101:2008
  2. b) ET 105:2011
  3. c) Relevant statutory instruments


  • Details of the installation:
  1. a) Scope of the installation
  2. b) Agreed limitations on the inspection and testing


  • Purpose of the report:
  1. a) state the purpose of the periodic inspection
  2. b) Statutory requirements
  3. c) Insurance inspection
  4. d) Safety audit


  • Supply characteristics and main isolator/main switch details (type of live conductors, electrical parameters values, test results per circuit, observations, and actions to be taken, test instruments used, declaration statement).



Continuous Supervision

Continuous supervision refers to the frequent attendance, inspection, service, care and maintenance of the electrical installation by skilled personnel who have experience in the specific installation and its environment in order to maintain the explosion protection features of the installation in satisfactory condition.


Grades of Inspection

Visual Inspection

Visual inspection identifies, without the use of access equipment or tools, defects such as missing bolts, which will be apparent to the eye.


Close Inspection

Close inspection identifies aspects covered by a visual inspection and, in addition, identifies those defects, such as loose bolts, which will be apparent only by the use of access equipment.


Detailed Inspection

Detailed inspection identifies aspects covered by a visual inspection and, in addition, identifies those defects, such as loose terminations, which will only be apparent by opening the enclosure, and/or using, where necessary, tools and test equipment


Inspection Frequency

  • It is expected that all inspections are to be carried out by trained, competent personnel experienced in this work.
  • Specific plant environment and the expected deterioration/life expectancy of equipment must be considered before deciding on the frequency of inspection.
  • It is stated that there should be no greater than 3 years between inspections for any piece of ATEX equipment.
  • A minimum inspection frequency of 12 months is given for handheld or portable equipment.


Aspects Checked during Inspections

  • Apparatus is appropriate for area classification;
  • Apparatus gas group is correct;
  • Apparatus surface temperature is correct;
  • Apparatus circuit identification; clearly labelled;
  • Sealing of conduits, trunking, etc.;
  • Tightness of cable entry devices;
  • Cable type appropriate;
  • Earthing & bonding;
  • Fault loop impedance or earthing resistance test & condition;
  • Insulation resistance test >1Mohm;
  • Overload devices;
  • Special condition of use ‘X’ marked equipment;
  • Type of protection – Flameproof enclosures ‘d’ type joints;
  • Type of protection – Increased safety ‘e’ overloads.


Qualification of Personnel

It is expected that the personnel carrying out the inspections are experienced and trained personnel, with knowledge of types of protection, installation practices, and relevant rules and regulations. It is also expected that these personnel have evidence of relevant experience and training (CompEx trained or equivalent).


Maintenance Requirements

  • Remedial measures and alterations maintain the integrity of the type of protection provided for the apparatus; this may require consultation with the manufacturer.
  • Replacement parts shall be in accordance with the safety documentation.
  • Alterations to apparatus shall not be carried out without appropriate authorization where they adversely affect the safety of the apparatus as stated in the safety documentation.


Maintenance of Flexible Cables

Flexible cables, flexible conduits and their terminations are particularly prone to damage. Therefore, they must be inspected at regular intervals and shall be replaced if found to be damaged or defective.


Withdrawal of Apparatus from Service

If it is necessary, for maintenance purposes, to withdraw apparatus, etc. from service, the exposed conductors shall be;


  1. correctly terminated in an appropriate enclosure, or
  2. isolated from all sources of power supply and insulated, or
  3. isolated from all sources of power supply and earthed.


If the apparatus is to be permanently withdrawn from service, the associated wiring, which shall be isolated from all sources of power supply, shall be removed, or, alternatively, correctly terminated in an appropriate enclosure.


Effects of Environmental Conditions

Electrical apparatus in a hazardous area can be adversely affected by the environmental conditions in which it is used. Some of the key elements to consider are corrosion, ambient, temperature, ultraviolet radiation, ingress of water, accumulation of dust or sand, mechanical effects, and chemical attack.


Maintenance Work

Any maintenance work should be restricted to:

  • Disconnection, removal or replacement of electrical equipment items and cabling;
  • Adjustment of any controls necessary for calibration of the electrical equipment;
  • Removal and replacement of any plug-in components or assemblies;
  • Use of any test instrument specified in relevant documentation;
  • Manufacturer’s recommendations.



Failures should be categorised as either minor faults or major faults. Someone with the authority to stop the process / production should always be available where a major fault is discovered.



Re-inspection is required after any faults are identified and rectified. It is standard practice that the person that rectified the fault is not assigned to re-inspect said fault.


Safety Issues

Detailed inspection requires that risk assessments be carried out to ensure that inspectors are not exposed to hazards during the work. Hazards such as incorrect isolation, unexpected failure of equipment under test, pre-existing faults should be considered.


Inspection of ATEX Areas

  • Drawings should be available for the ATEX area showing plan and elevation views.
  • Equipment should be marked on the drawings or on a database that cross references the drawing.
  • Register or schedule of Ex equipment should be available.
  • The inspector should identify items that may not be on the inspection list and raise safety concerns.



If, as a user, you modify a piece of equipment, the supplier declaration of conformity and ATEX certification is no longer valid (unless the supplier modifies the equipment at your request).

If you modify the equipment, you are required to certify the modified equipment yourself.


Inspection Maintenance Schedules

The following tables are included in Annex D of the BS EN 60079-17 standard


Management of Change (MOC)

Planning and Management of Change:

A. The employer should establish and implement written procedures to manage changes to process, chemicals, technology, equipment, procedures, and changes to facilities that affect a covered process.

B. The procedures should assure that the following considerations are addressed prior to any change:

    • the technical basis for the proposed change;
    • impact of change on health and safety;
    • modifications to operating procedures;
    • necessary time period for the change;
    • authorisation requirements for the proposed changed.


C. Employees involved in operating a process, maintenance and also contract employees whose job tasks will be affected by a change in the process shall be informed of, and trained in, the change prior to start-up of the process.

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CMSE Consultancy provide professional Occupational, Process, Explosion & Fire Safety Services.

If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at [email protected], by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.


What is Biosafety and why is it important?

Written by CMSE Health & Safety Consultant Aisling Hegarty

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the subject of biosafety and biosecurity has garnered attention around the world. This is largely based on the theories surrounding the laboratory origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which caused COVID-19. Nonetheless, biosafety has always remained a crucial element for research and biotechnology industries working with biological agents. A recently published article by Kings College London has revealed that only 25% of Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 labs around the world, handling the most dangerous pathogens, received high scores in biosafety. BSL-4 labs are containment facilities designed to handle the most pathogenic biological agents. The outcome of the analysis suggests an improvement in bio risk management and biosafety is required.

So what is biosafety?

The Safety, Health and Welfare At Work (Biological Agents) Regulations defines a “Biological agent” as “micro-organisms, including those which have been genetically modified, cell cultures and human endoparasites, which may be able to provoke any infection, allergy or toxicity…”

Biological agents are classified into 4 risk groups according to their level of risk of infection, as follows:

  • a “group 1 biological agent” means one that is unlikely to cause human disease to employees;
  • a “group 2 biological agent” means one that can cause human disease and might be a hazard to employees, although it is unlikely to spread to the community and in respect of which there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available;
  • a “group 3 biological agent” means one that can cause severe human disease and presents a serious hazard to employees and that may present a risk of spreading to the community, though there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available;
  • a “group 4 biological agent” means one that causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to employees and that may present a high risk of spreading to the community and in respect of which there is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

It is important for employers to note where work involving, or is likely to involve, exposure to Group 2, 3 or 4 biological agents, a notification must to be made to the Health & Safety Authority in advance of the work commencing.

When handling biological agents, the containment level (also referred to as biosafety level – BSL-1 to BSL-4) must be considered. These are safe methods for managing biological agents in the laboratory environment with the aim of reducing or eliminating exposure to employees. The containment level must be determined by the biological agent risk assessment. The minimum containment levels for each biological agent group are as follows:


  • Containment Level 2 [CL2] when handling a group 2 biological agent.
  • Containment Level 3 [CL3] when handling a group 3 biological agent.
  • Containment Level 4 [CL4] when handling a group 4 biological agent.

CL4 is the highest level of containment with increased isolation and more stringent controls in place to prevent exposure to personnel.

Why is biosafety important?

As previously mentioned, the aim of biosafety is to prevent harmful exposure from the use of biological agents to employees in the workplace. Some of the ways this can be achieved is through the following practises:


  • biological agent risk assessments– assess the risk from use and presence of the biological agent in the workplace and identity the control measures to reduce the risk.
  • containment measures to reduce or eliminate exposure to potentially hazardous biological agents
  • safe work procedures such as standard operating procedures (SOPS)
  • good microbiological and hygiene practices
  • training, information and awareness when working with biological agents
  • review and update risk assessments
  • record keeping – employer must keep records of all person exposed to Group 3 or Group 4 (or both) biological agents for at least 10 years after the last known exposure.
  • health surveillance programme (where necessary)

While all the above are necessary for an efficient biosafety programme, it is important to remember the consequences of failure in biosafety can be substantial. Studies over the years have shown that exposure to biological agents have caused the greatest number of laboratory acquired infections to personnel. For example, exposure to Salmonella Typhi (a Group 3 biological agent) via the ingestion route, can cause Typhoid fever with symptoms that can range from mild (fever, vomiting) to very severe (gastrointestinal haemorrhage). It is therefore essential that organisations maintain and adhere to an effective biosafety programme.

CMSE Consultancy provide professional services for biosafety in the workplace.

If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at [email protected], by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.


Organisational Control Measures

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 in a series of focussed blogs.

This is blog number 13 in the series, written by Jake Bumpus which deals with Organisational Control Measures to prevent and mitigate explosions.

In the previous blog, we discussed the physical measures businesses can implement to prevent and/or mitigate explosions – generally referred to as engineered or technical control measures. However, as a reminder, Regulation 171 of the General Application Regulations 2007 states that “an employer shall… take technical and organisational measures that are appropriate to the nature of the operation”.


There is therefore a duty on employers to not only consider the physical controls, but also what organisational controls should be implemented to prevent and/or mitigate explosions in their workplace. In this blog, we will discuss some common organisational controls which should be considered by employers who operate workplaces where there is the potential for an explosive atmosphere to form.

Standard Operating Procedures/Written Instructions

Work in hazardous areas should be carried out in accordance with written instructions, which are commonly referred to as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in many workplaces. Written instructions cannot by themselves prevent accidents, but they are an important part of providing a safe system of work, particularly when working in hazardous areas.


It is important that all workers are made aware of the relevant written instructions as part of their training to undertake a task safely, and that any important safety considerations are highlighted.


As well as recording the normal operation of a task, written instructions should also include how to respond to any reasonably foreseeable abnormal events, such as equipment failures, spillages, leaks etc.

Permit-to-Work System – Hot Work Permits

A permit-to-work system is a specialised type of safe system of work for ensuring that potentially very dangerous work is done safely. The fundamental principle for this type of system is that certain defined operations are prohibited without additional controls and the specific permission of a responsible manager.


Hot work includes cutting, welding, brazing, soldering, drilling, grinding, and any process involving the application of a naked flame. Hot work in a potentially explosive atmosphere is very hazardous because it can be a source of ignition. Hot work should therefore be done only under the terms of the hot work permit, the only exception being where hot work is done in a designated area suitable for that purpose (e.g. welding in a dedicated welding booth).


Typical types of protective measures that might be introduced by a hot work permit include:

  • the removal/isolation of flammable materials from the area,
  • testing/monitoring for flammable gases,
  • additional fire fighting equipment (e.g. fire extinguishers/fire blankets)
  • fire watch


According to Regulation 173 of the General Application Regulations 2007, employers are required to “provide persons at work in workplaces where explosive atmospheres may occur with sufficient and appropriate training with regard to explosion protection”. The duration and complexity of the training required should be determined by the employer, and will be different depending on the duties and responsibilities of the workers concerned.


For example, general explosion safety awareness training may be sufficient for general operatives working in hazardous areas in accordance with well-understood written instructions. We would recommend that to be most effective even general awareness training should include elements that have been made bespoke to the particular workplace (e.g. include photographs/drawings of the hazardous areas that have been identified on site).


For workers who require a more detailed understanding of explosion safety topics, such as managers and supervisors, CMSE Training run a 3-day Explosion Safety Management course which is externally accredited by IOSH.

For more specialised workers, e.g. engineers/technicians who are required to install, commission, and inspect Ex-rated equipment, then more in-depth training will be required to ensure that they are suitably competent for the role. Although not specified in legislation, we would recommend that these types of workers undertake CompEx training, as it is considered industry best practice. CompEx is an internationally recognised training qualification for Electrical, Instrumentation & Mechanical Engineers and Technicians who need to develop and demonstrate their competency in the selection, installation, inspection, and maintenance of Ex-rated equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) Programmes

It is very important that all Ex-rated equipment is included in a programme of planned preventative maintenance (PPM). Inspection and maintenance should be undertaken by suitably trained and competent personnel, and should be carried out in line with the frequencies outlined in EN 60079-17:2014 “Explosive atmospheres. Electrical installations inspection and maintenance”.

Regular inspection and maintenance of Ex-rated equipment is critical, as otherwise there is a potential that equipment that was previously safe to use in a hazardous area could become damaged/defective and subsequently act as an ignition source in an explosive atmosphere.


We will discuss inspection and maintenance of Ex-rated equipment in more detail in the next edition of this process safety blog series.

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CMSE Consultancy provide professional Occupational, Process, Explosion & Fire Safety Services.

If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at [email protected]by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.


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