There are some things you can do yourself – but modifying hazardous area equipment is one job best left to the experts.

Hazardous area equipment is designed to careful specifications in order to perform its function in the most challenging of environments.

When it becomes necessary to alter those specifications, it should be done by a qualified engineer, or in many cases the equipment should be replaced with a new unit ideally suited to the new criteria.

In one recent HSE incident, a producer of metal catalysts for the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries was fined £80,000 after a modified reactor at its Widnes premises exploded.

The blast on November 25th 2011 occurred just one day after the reactor had been modified; a seal had been fitted to prevent air from getting in, but this also led to higher pressure inside the vessel, and ultimately to a hydrogen explosion.

In the presence of any explosive gases, the right ex equipment is essential – and ad hoc modifications are generally not a good idea.

Remember too that higher-rated ex equipment can typically be used in less hazardous areas; so, for example, investing in Zone 0 equipment gives you an appliance suitable for Zone 1 or 2 as well, whereas Zone 2 equipment cannot be used safely in Zone 1 or 0 in the same way.