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Hazardous areas

A hazardous area is a three-dimensional space in which an explosive atmosphere is or may be expected to be present or form. Electrical equipment within the hazardous area must be suitably rated and effectively earthed to ensure that any ignition risks are adequately controlled. Special precautions are required for the construction, installation and use of potential ignition sources, as fire and explosion can result in catastrophic consequences for people and property.

The first step to identifying the fire and explosion risk of an installation is to conduct a hazardous area classification to determine whether any zones where an explosive atmosphere exists or may be expected to be present will affect the level of protection for electrical equipment.

Wherever flammable liquids, vapours, gases and combustible dusts are used, stored, handled or generated, a hazardous area classification is required to assess the risk of fire and explosion. Any person with management or control for an installation with an explosive atmosphere risk has a duty to ensure such a classification has been made.

For more information on hazardous area classification and fire and explosion prevention , follow the link to the information page.  A list of hazardous area classification specialists hazardous area can be found on the fire and explosion prevention  page.

Where electrical equipment is located within a hazardous area classification zone, specific requirements are mandated in AS/NZS 60079.14 Design selection, erection and initial inspection for the selection and installation of the electrical equipment.

Section 221 of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (the ES Regulation) requires that an accredited auditor inspect electrical installations in hazardous areas prior to connection for the first time or reconnection, to the extent it is affected by the electrical work, to a source of electricity.

Workplace self-assessment

Manage the fire and explosion risks by conducting a self-assessment of your workplace with the self-assessment tool to ensure that explosive atmospheres are effectively controlled.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and ESO Inspectors may request to view a completed copy of the self-assessment during site inspections.

Industry compliance management

The Electrical Safety Office (ESO) supported by WHSQ conduct workplace visits to ensure that the risks of fire and explosion have been identified, assessed and controlled. Key focus areas are:

  • compliance with the relevant work health and safety, and electrical safety requirements
  • adequate controls are implemented to reduce the fire and explosion risk at their workplace
  • engagement of a hazardous area classification specialist to determine zone requirements for electrical equipment in a hazardous area.

Inspectors will take enforcement actions if unmanaged risks relating to fire and explosion are identified. This may include compliance notices immediately prohibiting the use of electrical equipment in hazardous areas until risk controls are implemented and verified.

Common industries with hazardous areas

This is a selection of industries that may have hazardous areas.

Flammable liquids, vapours and gases

  • Gas manufacturing and processing plants
  • Gas storage and dispensary
  • Landfill gas recovery plants
  • Bio-gas and fuel plants
  • Hydrogen generation plant
  • Glue/resin batch plants
  • Fiberglass and glass manufacturers
  • Hospital operating theatres
  • Laboratories
  • Bitumen storage tanks (heated >100°C)
  • Cement manufacturers
  • Landfill sites
  • Chemical plants
  • Mineral refinery
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturer
  • Paint warehouses and manufacturers
  • Paint mixing and tinting plants
  • Printing plants
  • Spray booths
  • Treated water dosing stations
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Petrol stations
  • Fuel dispensaries and refineries
  • Fuel tanker filling plant
  • Fuel storage tanks
  • Coal seam gas wells and plants
  • Hydrocarbon dewatering plants
  • Oil recycling facility

Combustible dusts

  • Industrial bakeries
  • Milk manufacturing plant
  • Grain storage silo
  • Sugar refinery
  • Sugar storage silo
  • Breweries
  • Distillery
  • Flour mill
  • Plasterboard manufacturer
  • Food manufacturing (industrial scale)
  • Coal stockyards
  • Coal conveyor transfer chute
  • Saw mills
  • Fertilizer manufacturing and storage

Developing an electrical installation improvement plan for a new hazardous area

How to develop an improvement plan for an existing electrical installation in a newly identified hazardous area.

Last updated
28 January 2020

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