Ex equipment can be designed to contain electrical currents to prevent the risk of sparking a fire or explosion, but can also help to prevent the risk of the operator suffering an electric shock due to exposure to that current.

In some industrial settings, tools like arc welding torches are needed to join metal components together, and because of the way they work, this introduces new risks and hazardous areas.

Writing in the proceedings of the Industry Applications Society Annual Meeting 2016, Fabio Freschi explains some of the different ways incidents can arise from the use of arc welding equipment in hazardous areas.

“Besides the obvious risks of burns and inflammation of the cornea, which are prevented by using proper personal protective equipment, the operator may also be subject to the risk of electric shock from the exposed parts of the welding circuit, both the electrode and the workpiece,” he writes.

“In addition, the welding current, by straying from the intended path, can cause localised heating of parts, with the risks of triggering fires and/or explosive atmospheres.”

With the correct Ex equipment in place, currents can be correctly isolated and any localised heating prevented from becoming a threat – allowing essential maintenance and construction work to continue with much lower risk.