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Curators Reserve

HAZ EX/OP Area - Mobile/ Cell Phones

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Hi ADI.

What is the realistic & legitimate Risk Assessment of use of Mobile Phones/ Cell phones and even Vehicle Key Fobs in direct zone around Distillation Pot/ Column under operation for an 'Open' system versus 'Closed' system?

Tight OSHA/ OH&S here on a small (200L Pot & 200L Column) Rum Distillery that is up & close & personal for Tourists to visit & frequent & after touring ~80+ Distilleries globally in past 5 years, very, very few have a mobile/ cell phone policy within the stillhouse.

All feedback, thoughts & advice appreciated.

 

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4 hours ago, Curators Reserve said:

What is the realistic & legitimate Risk Assessment

Closer to non-existent that not. Worry about things like selling product and paying your lease and staff.  In all seriousness. Many would have us believe that a nanogram of leaky vapor will cause a catastrophic explosion. That's simply not the case.  Use common sense, don't be cavalier about safety and you'll be fine.

 

 

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over the years i have done jobs in live gas plants ,gas wells, distilleries , breweries , extraction plants , hexane plants , and hydrogen plants . never has anyone ever mentioned that a cell phone poses any risk . i think you have nothing to worry about , if anyone tells you your at risk tell them to prove it . 

tim 

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Interestingly enough, today I got a private tour of an ethanol plant which makes over 50 million gallons of pure ethanol each year--cell phones were most definitely allowed.

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For clarity on this - it is not my DSP but who I work for. The DSP is owned & operated here in Australia by the local county (Municipal Council) - primarily as a Tourist attraction for the Sugar Cane & Cane/ Sugar Processing industry in AU.

Due to the 'Risk adverse' nature of the County/ Municipal Council - the OSHA/ OH&S is somewhat overkill due to the public interaction & proximity to the HAZ areas (4-6 ft).

I concur on the ~80 DSP visits I have done across AU/ NZ/ USA/ Canada/ UK/ Ireland/ Italy that very few if any have these same issues..

Other than Mythbusters dis-proving the Cell phone- Gas Pump myth - is there any Industry related reference or 'Code of Practice' etc that can be sourced or Professional opinion weight in on this?

 

 

 

 

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This is covered by ATEX and IEC/UL/FM - Mobile Phones are not considered intrinsically safe by default, and are not permitted in classified environments without specifically being certified for it.  If they are holding you to the letter of the law, this is the case, as silly as it sounds.  Realize that this applies to desk calculators, electric thermometers, computers, laptops, flashlights, electrical tools, etc etc etc.  Hell, even Anton Paar makes an intrinsically safe approved version of the DMA35.  Hearing aid?  Yep, that's included too - and yes, Siemens makes an intrinsically safe hearing aid with ATEX approvals.

Realistically - the risk of accident due to operator distraction is probably 1000x higher than the risk of ignition by a mobile phone.

There are manufacturers of explosion proof and intrinsically safe mobile phones - these are primarily targeted at the oil and gas industry - think oil rigs where safety is of absolutely paramount importance, or refineries where a fire or explosion would be absolutely catastrophic.  Or probably most realistic, where the risk of lawsuit liability is highest.

There are even manufacturers of mobile phone CASES that carry the intrinsically safe approvals necessary.  They cost big $$$ ($500-1000).  The case itself if probably worth $10, it's the approvals and paperwork that cost the rest.

 

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https://www.engworks.ca/uploads/1/0/0/4/100477408/cellphoneshazardouslocations.pdf

Cell phones are commonly used in petrochemical operations however; government regulations and company policies strictly limit the use of cell phones in hazardous locations. The representative sample of cell phones subjected to the ISA RP12.12.03-2002 design and performance criteria failed to pass the requirements for a PEP 2 device. This would imply that all cell phones in the test group posed an ignition risk in hazardous location.

Further testing and analysis indicated the greatest risk was associated with dropping a cell phone on a hard surface. The impact caused the battery to disconnect in the majority of cases and could potentially create an impact spark under ideal conditions. All other potential ignition risks were deemed negligible.

The Monte Carlo model simulation results estimated the probability of a fire or explosion resulting from the use of a commercial grade cellular phone in a Class I Division 2/Zone 2 hazardous location as negligible. This conclusion concurs with several previous studies where cell phones were deemed a negligible hazard in gasoline pumping operations.

While the research and conclusions of this paper indicate the probability of a cell causing an ignition in a Class I, Division/Zone 2 location are minimal, the authors do not suggest the potential hazard can be ignored. Mobile communication devices that are third party listed for use in htm hazardous locations are commercially available and serve to eliminate the risk of ignition. In all case, appropriate safety measures in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) regulations, electrical codes and other regulations must be observed.

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The battery problem they cite has to do with old mobile phones, which had user replaceable batteries (think old Nokia), where if you dropped one, the back cover and battery would pop off.  Given that most modern phones are entirely sealed, no batteries, it would seem that even their negligible risk is no longer a problem.

That said, they still go out of their way to CYA (Cover Your Ass) saying that the rules are the rules.

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