To most managers in the industry, state-of-the-art technology and complete efficiency define the successfulness of their plant or facility. What most forget is the third, and arguably most important facet of a successful machine shop: workplace safety. Prioritizing safety in operations ensures the well being of your valuable workforce and the output of your product, both of which directly affect your company's bottom line.
An often overlooked safety hazard within the machine tool world is safety ratings of work lighting. There are many types of dangerous locations that exhibit the presence of flammable gases, liquids, vapors, dust, and particles that may react hazardously to improperly rated lighting fixtures. NEC (National Electric Code) standards exist to define the classes, divisions, and groups of combustion and explosion probabilities within an environment.
Class I locations are made hazardous by the presence of flammable gases, liquids, or vapors. Class II locations can be described as hazardous because of the presence of combustible dusts. Class III locations contain easily ignitable fibers or flyings. “Division” refers to the likelihood that ignitable concentrations of flammable materials are present in a given area. Division 1 designates an environment where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, liquids, vapors or dusts can exist some of the time or all of the time under normal operating conditions or where easily ignitable fibers and flyings are manufactured, handled or used. Division 2 locations are areas where ignitable concentrations are NOT likely to exist under normal operating conditions or where Class III materials are stored or handled.
Hazardous atmosphere classes are further defined by “groups.” Combustible materials are grouped by their relevant physical properties. These groups include (but are not limited to):
Group A Acetylene
Group B Hydrogen
Group C Ethylene, carbon monoxide
Group D Propane, gasoline, naphtha, benzene, butane, ethyl alcohol, acetone, methane
Group E Metals including aluminum, magnesium (Div. 1 only)
Group F Carbonaceous dusts including coal, carbon black, and coke
Group G Dusts not included in E and F including wood, plastics, flour, starch or grain dusts
It is essential before purchasing and installing a work light in or around your machine to identify if your location has a defined class, division, and/or group of hazards that may interfere with your lighting choice so as to avoid risking explosions and electrical mishaps. If your work light does not need to exist within a hazardous environment, it doesn’t mean that the light itself will be safe from the workspace. Often the water, chemical, and oil fluids within the machine can create problems for a work light and drastically effect the usability or lifetime of the unit.
Though technologic and scientific improvements, smarter products have been developed that can tackle the challenges of the evolving and complicated environments that work lights are often put into. Patlite’s work light series offers unprecedented options for work lights imperviousness to materials solid, liquid, and gas. Patlite products are intelligently designed to fit the industries of which they serve and are tried and tested to qualify for conformity standards by major committees and directives worldwide.
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